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'W . G . Jchnston . 

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Bv Anson D. F. Randolph and Company 


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/ ^ I. '• He being Dead yet Speaketh "'.... 3 

II. No Form nor Comeliness 12 

III. The Divine Mission 24 

IV. "A Friend of Publicans and Sinners'' . 33 
V. The Choosing of the Twelve 41 

VI. The Loneliness of Christ 52 

VII. The Future Condition of the Believer . 61 

VIII. The Centurion's Application >,■ ,69 

, ' ^ ^' ;'*' >>: V^ 

IX. The Christ-like Spirit^ ' y ^- j, ,\ \i j, I \ .> • 77 

; \\ '/ %> V ' ' 

X. Christian Privilege ',.''i'\ '. ,»> i ,\'!' . 86 

./ XI. The Law of Spiritual Life' i. ,'',,'."'. ' ... 97 

XII. Use and Disuse . . . .^^ .' h','' 4,''. //>>'■ • "o 

j XIII. The Future Life. . . .>•.'' 124 

XIV. At His Appearing 137 

XV. The Strait Gate 144 

XVI. Righteous Judgment 151 

XVII. The Book of God \6i 

XVIII. Fruit Bearing 169 

XIX. Heirs of the Kingdom «7'^ 

XX. The Groaning Creation 1S5 




XXI. Ministers of the New Testament ... 195 

XXII. Human Discernment 204 

XXI II. The Will of the Lord 213 

XXIV. Faith and Works 222 

XXV. The End Achieved 232 

^,^ XXVI. A Wise Proverb 238 

J J XXVII. A Paternal Whisper 247 

XXVIII. God's Power and Solicitude 252 

XXIX. The Voice of One Crying in the W'ilder- 

ness 259 

XXX. King Herod and John the Baptist ... 266 

XXXI. The Renewal of the Earth 275 

XXXII. Idolatry 283 

XXXI I I. Good arising out of Evil 293 

XXXIV. The Kingdom of God is within You ... 306 
\j\ X>\XV. None of us Liveth unto Himself . . . . 315 

\ XXX^^-/ .'^-eaVei^ anp. Earth shall Pass Away . , 322 


He being dead yet speaketh. — Heb. xi, 4. 

T^HE writer refers to Abel; he says that the right 
doing of Abel, though he died when the world 
itself was young, *'yet speaketh. " So it seems the 
dead may have a lasting voice, long sounding through 
lands and ages. I do not say that they always have; 
perhaps the noblest voices of the whole world our ears 
may never have heard. God hears them, — not we. 
But for a time, and in certain ways, all dead people 
speak, — the good and the bad; they all speak at least 
of one thing, — of mortality. There is power in every 
dead body, at every grave. I pass through a grave- 
yard, and read epitaphs touching from affection, or 
silly from extravagance and vanity, but a power comes 
from all of them, solemn, tender, and inexpressible. 
If the life has been of the common routine, or if it has 
been good and sweet and helpful, or base and crimi- 
nal, no matter, all speak beneficently to the heart. In 
fact, the dead, whoever they are, can only speak in one 
way: they are forbidden to speak otherwise. Even the 
poor creature never inspired while he lived is inspired 
in his dust; and it would be well that the living laid 


to heart this voice of all the dead, visited oftener the 
place where the dead speak, not as frightened children, 
but as thoughtful men. 

Of other ways in which the dead speak, consider 
the case of those who literally speak in their remem- 
bered words and writings. It is a mysterious thing, 
and brings our limited spirits into some likeness to 
the Creator, that a man, say he is called Plato, and 
lived in Greece, or the man called Confucius, in 
China, or Zoroaster, in Persia, or Moses, living in 
Egypt, or in the wilderness, or in Syria, — that these 
should be heard to-day, should reign and dominate in 
ideas, in institutions, in laws; that the weight of their 
consciences and words should be a part of you and 
me; that old philosophers and poets, not merely in 
their wisdom, but in their wit and jest and elo- 
quence and verse, should live, and their music sound 
upon the air, — a power gone forth never to be revoked, 
yes, irrevocable as the light of those stars long dead 
(dead since the creation of the earth), yet whose image 
and light still illuminate our nights. From these 
great dead let us pass to the lesser dead, who speak 
through their influence or acts. I shall speak, in the 
first place, of specific acts or works. A man has made 
a discovery, he has invented a machine, he has effected 
an improvement, he has established something, — say 
a foundation of learning or charity, such as Oxford in 
England, — through all of them he, being dead, speaks. 
But of all these acts of the dead there is one which I 


shall single out, as an allusion to it will come home 
to so many people, — I mean that act so significant, 
called a man's last will. This act, in which every 
man is powerful, by which every man speaks, it is 
worth while to ask how it is performed. It is always 
a solemn, and often the most influential single act of 
a man's life. 

I believe it is often the most inconsiderate and 
selfish of a man's acts. "Inconsiderate," I say. 
From a silly or a superstitious fear, or a weak putting 
off, it is left unthought of and undone, until at last, 
in some dash or flurry, sometimes thousands, or even 
millions, are disposed of with less consideration than 
is usually given to a month's or a year's expenses. 
Obviously it is an act which should be done most 
thoughtfully, and not postponed, but done at once, 
and often reviewed. 

I said also that it was often done "selfishly." That 
act of a man which takes effect just as he goes out 
into the presence of God is often an act deliberately 
rancorous, vain, cruel, and selfish. When I consider, 
on the one hand, the disputes and heart-burnings 
caused by hasty and inaccurate, or ill-judged, ungener- 
ous, and spiteful wills, and when I think, on the other 
hand, of the opportunities to benefit and bless which 
are worse than thrown away, I say the dead speak in 
their wills; but they often speak banefully, and their 
voices, which should always be solemn and just, sound 
harsh and passionate, as in a quarrel in the market- 


place. What, have I not the right to do what I will 
with mine own? If we mean legal right, — yes; but 
we have no right to do anything in this wise which 
is not considerate. Do we not see that sometimes 
whole families are turned into nests of demons, that 
sometimes unnecessary wealth is proudly lavished 
upon a few, despitefully withdrawn from somiC, and 
heaped on those who evidently were not formed to 
make any but the poorest use of it, while public and 
permanent charities are forgotten? Do we not see 
that while within the scope of every man's knowledge 
there are half a dozen, twenty, or thirty people, some 
of them friends, known to be poor, known to be of 
those to whom life has been cruel and the "world 
unjust," yet not one penny is dropped to them? 
I am aware that there is among us a great moral 
mistake, which does not even recognize such a thing 
as family selfishness, which has no suspicion it can be 
wrong. I am aware that from the strength of family 
affection, and from the hardening influences of the 
world, many men gradually narrow their hearts to that 
little circle of home, and forget, or at least disregard, 
the claims of all outside. It is not human or Chris- 
tian to do so. If, then, any act should be done in 
reverence and with a sense of the just claims upon a 
man, it is this; if any act should be done, not revenge- 
fully, not fancifully, not ambitiously, it is this. If 
any one reflects while he does this act, "being dead," 
this sheet of paper will yet act balefully or benignly, 


he will be apt to make his last will a wise and merci- 
ful will. It was the old custom to begin the will as 
a solemn act of religion, professing faith and commit- 
ting the soul to its Redeemer. This is well; but 
how much better if the man at the same moment does 
no act incongruous with faith, and with the spirit of 
his Redeemer, which is a spirit (we need not be told) 
of love and wisdom. As we read the solemn page, 
the departed man comes back; we see his face, and 
feel the honor and tenderness which were at the bot- 
tom of his heart. 

Consider now the influence of a character as long 
as that character is remembered. What tenderness, 
what penetrating power, come from our remembered 
dead, no one need be told. 

But if that were all, that would be short. Influence, 
however, lasts when the source of it is all forgotten. 
When the man's remembrance is gone, his power lasts, 
for his spirit has passed into other spirits, and will go 
down from soul to soul, and stop, I know not where. 
Perhaps the influences which are shaping our hearts 
to-day have come from people we have never seen, or 
remember no more. From each man, dead or living, 
remembered or forgotten, flow streams of good or evil, 
of which the head and fountain are often as undis- 
covered as the once mysterious sources of the Nile, — 
just as there are afloat this moment in the atmosphere, 
germs of dark disease rising far off in the marshes of 
unknown lands, or airs of health breathed from the 


unknown spaces of distant seas. Influence does not 
know how to die; the dead live in it and speak in it. 
No matter what becomes of us personally, we may- 
become permanent powers of good, and save ourselves 
from becoming permanent powers of evil. This is the 
highest and purest purpose in living. The common 
desire for personal remembrance is instinctive and 
comparatively selfish; but when we are totally forgot- 
ten, as we soon shall be, we may yet live on, purifying 
and solacing the coming generations of men. This is 
the most sublime destiny known to man. Yes, and 
the best way of saving ourselves at the same time. If 
a man paid no attention at all to his own immortality, 
— to saving his soul, — and just thought of doing that 
which would save others, — just thought of speaking 
loud and long, of acting powerfully for Christ his 
Master, — then his own salvation would take good 
care of itself. Clarkson, it is said, was so interested 
in freeing and solacing the slave that he had no time 
for the affairs of his soul ; but his soul was well cared 
for. If a man really designs to save others, he can 
never fail to save himself. There is but one appropri- 
ate ambition for man, — that whatever becomes of him, 
he may yet speak for God; that he may add something 
to the virtuous forces that are in the world; that his 
power may a little break down evil. This is the very 
work of religion, and this is the work of the children 
of Christ. Yes, that I may live so sweet and noble a 
life that a good may go out of me and pass on forever; 


that I may make self-denial and mercy to others seem 
more beautiful than morning light, that so other 
hearts may grow into the same beauty ; that I may 
present some aspect of the image of Christ fresh and 
new in the world, that I may make it seem the only 
nobility; that men and women may gaze after it and 
say, " We have found the image of Christ ! " and go 
rejoicing after it. Or, if I cannot do this, that I may 
invigorate some work of Christian benevolence, — 
plan something of my own, or labor for something not 
my own; to erect or finish or set forward some lasting 
thing that will stand like a fountain of fresh water m 
a great and heated city. Well, then, whether from 
the good of some benevolent work, or from the divine 
charm of Christ transfused into human hearts, we may, 
being dead, yet " speak" — yes, even after death — 
with a voice stronger and finer than the accents of life. 
Being dead, the self-denying and gracious life will be 
seen as it is. The Lord knew this as to himself; 
he saw how poor and limited were the fruits of all 
he did while he lived, and so he longed for the 
baptism of death, and felt straitened until it was 
accomplished. He welcomed suffering, and said to 
himself, "being dead, I will speak;" and so he died 
that he might speak, and died in that way that he 
might speak loudest. "I, if I be lifted up, will draw 
all men unto me." It gave a solemn satisfaction to 
his end to know that death would tell something to 
the human heart that nothing else could tell, — that 


once his head was covered with its bleeding crown, 
that then he would at last be heard, and the ends of 
the earth would melt and mourn for him. " He saw 
of the travail of his soul, and was satisfied." What an 
expression! — "the travail of his soul," — that is, he 
saw the soul truths which would spring from his labor- 
ing: heart, and "was satisfied." His satisfaction was 
that of the dying mother, who rejoices that through 
her martyrdom the child is born; this very feeling, 
purified and enlarged from the special and half-bodily 
instinct of the mother, into a universal desire and aim 
of this great motherly soul, — this was Christ, this was 
he! And our true purpose in living is that we may 
share a little in this spirit, — that, like him, "whether 
we live or die," we "live or die" bearing fruit unto 
God ; that we live or die sending into the world new 
honor and justice, new mercy and tenderness. We, 
in this scene of shadows, and shadows ourselves, may 
be converted into realities, into sons of God, and may 
live a life so like to Christ's that, like him, being 
dead, we cannot be holden of death in any sense, but 
even our memory and acts may become a perpetual 
element of purification and solace to men. There is 
nothing else worth living for. 

There is a legend that the grave of the great magi- 
cian Merlin sang, — that a musical hum, as of bees, 
a wild and wondrous and celestial sort of music, filled 
the air as with the fragrance of spring, — and that 
there forever, from out that grave, by day and by 


night, the song of Merlin continued to be sung. The 
grave of every child of Christ is the grave of a magi- 
cian greater than Merlin, and from thence forever, 
sweet influences flow out, and the work of the Lord is 
done. Though the eye is shut, the attentive ear hears 
heavenly airs which give delight and hurt not, — dead, 
yet forever speaking. 



He hath no form nor comeliness ; and when we shall see him, 
there is no beauty that we should desire him. — Isaiah liii. 2. 

TT/HILE in the ancient and more modern books 
VV of the Hebrews there is an evident imprint of 
some future man, it is a figure of confused and waver- 
ing outline. Sometimes a young and conquering 
prince comes in with the sound of trumpets; some- 
times a poor man, powerless, ill-used, down-trodden, 
led to prison and to judgment. On this page there is 
a splendid phantom, rising like a sun, proclaimed by 
heralds on the tops of mountains, taking his seat as 
king, issuing his law to the islands, making his judg- 
ment to stand fresh and welcome as a new day; while 
on the reverse there appears a figure as a servant of 
servants, alone and unobtrusive, disfigured and broken, 
the astonishment of all ("many were astonished at 
thee"), a victim led to death meek and without resist- 
ance, — " brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a 
sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he opcncth not 
his mouth." 

Whatever the belief may be, no one can, without a 
sense of awe, read these accounts, see these diverging 


lines magically converged and centred on that one 
man who went out towards the Hill Calvary, bearing 
his cross, and who now is the acknowledged King of 
the human race. In this man the substance of all the 
old anticipations is made actual, — "All the promises 
of God in him are yea, and in him amen." 

I will confine myself to one trait in these ancient 
descriptions of the future man, the trait of homeli- 
ness, — "He hath no form nor comeliness." 

The early Christians foolishly understood that 
merely the body was meant, — as, for example, the 
earlier fathers, Justin Martyr, Tertullian, Clemens of 
Alexandria, and Origen. These gloried in the thought 
of the uncomeliness of Christ It was because they 
thought that his self-sacrifice must extend to all points 
that they came to believe he was humiliated even 
in his looks. But later, Jerome, Chrysostom, and 
Augustine thought not so; they exhibited his person 
in the most glowing colors, "believing assuredly," as 
they said, "that the splendor and majesty of hidden 
divinity could not but appear." This last belief pre 
vailed, and accordingly the art of the Church for ages 
aimed to find the highest ideal of the appearance of 
Christ, — the attempt reaching its perfection, perhaps, 
in the conceptions of Michael Angelo and Raphael. 

The fact of the entire silence of the New Testament 
as to the appearance of the Lord, and of the absence 
of the slightest traditionary hint as to it, is certainly 
one of the most singular things in history, and I can 


only account for it, not from any design or reason on 
the part of the evangelists, but by a fact as curious, 

— namely, that they were so impressed by him, by his 
ideas, were so thoroughly carried up into the new and 
amazing world he opened, that they had but a faint 
interest in these lower facts so interesting to us; and 
I take this to be a gauge or measure of the transcend- 
ent effect of the spirit of Christ upon their spirits, 
rendering them somewhat as he was, singularly indif- 
ferent and even insensible to things earthly. "The 
flesh profiteth nothing." The story they tell gives 
not the slightest sign of interest in any external and 
personal details, which yet the writers well knew. 
They instinctively omitted all these, and severely and 
without exception adhered to what they felt was 

Therefore, if we wish to know the profound impres- 
sion of realities on the first disciples, we can realize 
it in the fact that no description of Christ or of one 
another is alluded to, and that from the earlier Chris- 
tians there is literally no tradition as to these things, 

— a simple blank. 

Whatever the fact may have been as to the merely 
physical in the appearance of the Lord, it is strange 
enough that there could be any doubt as to the impres- 
sion his presence gave. Such a spirit could illumi- 
nate and transfigure, at least to those who knew it, 
any form, as the evening light in the west makes 
things rare and strange out of any dull and shapeless 


vapors which chance to gather there. To any eye 
which knew the heart of the man Christ Jesus; but 
indeed it was so, in a degree, to all, and particularly 
at certain times. I think there are signs of it in the 
gospel narrative again and again. 

For example, the account Saint John gives as to the 
arrest of Christ. When the officers and soldiers, with 
torches and weapons, came into the garden to take 
him, and penetrated near to the spot where he stood, 
"Jesus went forth, and said unto them, Whom seek 
ye.? They answered him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus 
saith unto them, I am he. As soon as he had said 
unto them, I am he, they went backward, and fell to 
the ground." And he was obliged to repeat it, and to 
assure them, before they had force enough to take 
him. I think, as to this, it was simply the prostrat- 
ing power of such pure personal loftiness as eye had 
never seen before. Could the most unusual of beings 
look other than unusual } Could this singular spirit of 
wisdom, purity, beauty, power, fail to look wise, pure, 
beautiful, powerful, — that is, enchanting or regal ? If 
we remembered this, we should see with more insight 
than we do what the Gospels mean in many of their 
brief stories. For example, we should understand 
the demeanor of Pilate during the examination of his 
prisoner; we should see in him, to be sure, a mixture 
of many feelings, but not the least of these were fear 
and awe. The silence, the strange dignity, the singu- 
lar apartness of Christ, the whole look of the person. 


SO rose upon him at last that he was struck with super- 
stitious dread ; and breaking out as if he saw a phantom 
or an unrecognized god before him, he said, "Whence 
art thou?" 

The real intention of the words, " He hath no form 
nor comeliness," was but to express the general fact 
that the front the Christ should present to men would 
not be attractive. How true! When he first struck 
the eye in Galilee or Jerusalem, perhaps no man now 
can fully realize what a common and every-day look 
the whole matter wore. If it were to take place now, 
and I were to describe the village, the street, point 
out the house where he lived, and give full particulars, 
we would see at once how hard it was for the Jewish 
imagination to be pleased with him. To be sure, he 
was a beautiful, simple Teacher; he carried the dazzle 
of miracles about him. But then they did n't want a 
teacher at all, but rather a king; and though his 
earnest, deeply beautiful, and picturesque words would 
sometimes strike and hold them, yet much that he 
taught was against their prejudices, and all was against 
the moral taste of any but the simple. As to his 
miracles, he made them as little splendid as possible; 
they were just as humble and obscure acts as their 
evident power would allow them to be, and not at all 
the "signs from heaven" — dazzling things on the 
front of the sky — which they expected of their 
Messiah. They were merely quiet acts of mercy, 
done so simply that they scarcely seemed miracles at 


all. On the whole, he was unimposing in all things 
(which the world thinks imposing), just the opposite 
of what they thought high and great. Christ was the 
pure glory of God within, and they wanted a glory not 
pure, not of God, and with a splendid outside; and so 
to their whole moral tastes he was without form and 
comeliness. He was divine to the pure heart; but to 
the proud and worldly imagination, delighting only 
in the outside, he was not divine : he was a homely 
and unattractive figure. 

He being such as he was, and they being such as 
they were, he must have looked homely to them, and 
without form, as really high things of any sort must 
always seem strange and disagreeable to low tastes. 
This is true in literature and art. 

It has become a maxim that the purest beauty in lit« 
erature and art is never obvious at first ; it is a beauty 
which lies under, which slowly gains and wins, which 
we come to know by the improvement of our own 

So in our historical tastes; the highest style of men 
are only slowly appreciated. Why, even yet, there 
are a thousand people who genuinely admire Napoleon, 
the selfish man of force and blood, to one who genu- 
inely admires Socrates, the genius and martyr of vir- 
tue. The Pantheon of the earth is even yet filled with 
gods of a very low sort. Even yet adventure, blood, 
and war, however capricious and cruel, and such 
heroes, however selfish and contemptible, delight the 


savage and the boy and the crude man, while a maturer 
feeling admires the wise and benevolent arts and 
sacrifices of peace, and the nobler heroes, who, whether 
they be of the battlefield or the sick-chamber, are 
marked by self-sacrifice. 

Judge, then, how Jesus Christ, the top of all divine 
beauty, a picture of such singular and transcendent 
coloring and design, a being so peculiar, — judge, 
then, how he must appear to half-barbarous hearts, 
then or now; for he, like all great masters, must 
change the taste of the world before he can be received 
by the world; he must create the light in which he is 
to be seen. In this sense, then, it is essential, apart 
from any design, that Christ should be an unattractive 
figure. What was true of the God in the Old Testa- 
ment is true of the Redeemer in the New: "Verily 
thou art a God that hidest thyself." 

Over and above this essential opposition between 
Christ and the world, there seems to be, besides, a 
divine purpose to present the Christ, the image of 
God, in that shape and look which, while really the 
divinest, would be most spurned. A compromise 
might have been made, perhaps, and Christ come forth 
as a youthful King, holy and yet charming to the eyes 
of the nations. But the design seems to have been 
that the highest spirit should walk on the earth in the 
poorest circumstances, and that all the fulness of 
grace and beauty should so appear as to allow the 
proud taste to be shocked. In respect to Christ him- 


self, this opened the way for the deepest humiliation 
and purification of himself; and in respect to man, the 
design seems to have been to present — in the form of 
these people who persecuted him off the earth, these 
priests, and the aristocracy of the temple and nations, 
these Romans, representing the imperial power of the 
earth — such a spectacle of the grandeur of the earth 
in its true character, so high-looking and so mean, — 
to confront it with a being, an outcast, with no place 
"to lay his head," yet so transcendent, — to place 
these, I say, front to front, as if God said, " Look. 
See these with all the glory of earth on their side; see 
their cruelty, even to blood, when their prejudices 
and interests are crossed; see them growing uglier and 
meaner and belittled in their meanness; and see him, 
this simple man, in the naked majesty of holiness, 
mercy, patience, growing higher, through all his 
degradation and contumely and scorn and blood, and 
ever ascending and enlarging until 'he sat down on 
the right hand of the Majesty on high. ' See this ; and 
by this sight let all the race of men forever know the 
nothingness of that side and the unspeakable greatness 
of this, and so let them cast 'down imaginations and 
every high thing that exalteth itself.' " 

Christ came into the world to show in himself, and 
by contrast with others, that grandeur is in the spirit ; 
and so he came to change the world's ideals. Is that 
amission unworthy the Son of God.? I may express 
the same thought in another way, and say he came 


into the world to change man's deepest inward sense of 
what is highest and best. It is the ideal of the world 
as to what is grandest which sways and masters and 
shapes it, all its hearts, all its civilizations; so that he 
who changes that, even in the least, becomes so far 
the master of the world. Give any man, any nation, 
a new sense of glory, and henceforth you dye every- 
thing in that new color; make any young man to 
know, all through him, that not in wealth and its 
splendors, not in the applause or votes of a silly 
crowd, not in luxurious ease, not in the finest life of 
the senses, but in the noblest, the Christ-like heart, 
lies all good and all greatness; that honor and immor- 
tality are in the tone of the heart and nowhere else, — 
convince him of this, and you have made him over; 
henceforth, though you clothe him in rags, though you 
steep him in poverty and shame to the very lips, he 
is "a son of the Highest," born anew to God through 
Christ the Lord. 

That correction of the heart which began in Judea, 
and chiefly upon the Hill of Calvary, was the dawn of 
day for the earth, when the human eye began to see, 
when it was forced by this awful sight to see, where 
divineness really was and where it was not; when it 
saw in the form of an outcast, despised and rejected, 
a man associated with publicans in his life, and thieves 
in his death, — when in him, the one without comeli- 
ness, it saw, because of the heart that was in him, a 
sight as if heaven were opening, a new vision of the 


inexpressible charm of pure love, a vision of that 
noblest self who forgot self, who humbled self, who 
sacrificed self, through all woes and buffetings and 
blood ; and, this seen, there was a cry heard in the 
earth: "Behold, behold the Lamb of God!" 

The ideal was changed. Talk of revolutions, of 
eras of advance, — that was the one unique revolution, 
God's revolution. Henceforward that vision of Christ 
will never leave the heart; this formless Being be- 
comes "the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valley," 
"fairer than the children of men." Henceforward 
mere outside greatness is becoming emptied to its 
shell. Nay, the splendors of human genius and the 
force of human will, the heroes and darlings of his- 
tory, tested by the heart of Christ, and in so far as 
they do not share the magnanimity of Christ, his pity, 
his condescension, his self-forgetting, his purity and 
love, mightier than all temptation, stronger than 
death, so far as this soul is not in them, they seem 
more and more, to all true taste, poor and mean, and 
tainted all through with common selfishness. 

The work of changing ideals, the yielding of false 
ideals to true, is the one difficulty in the advance of 
man. But the world moves. At the hour of the 
death of Christ the antagonism between the world's 
ideal and that of Christ seemed forever irreconcil- 
able; and from that hour one might describe the his- 
tory of Christianity in the world as the history of a 
war, — a war, that is, of the deepest ideals. But 


Christ is the Master. " I, if I be lifted up from the 
earth, will draw all men unto me." The attraction 
grows. The One without form seems beautiful to- 
day, and more beautiful to-morrow. That simple 
voice which said, ** Come unto me, all ye," quiet and 
without a cry, grows more powerful than all the trum- 
pets, and waxes louder and louder, until I do believe 
that all men will hear it and will be drawn upward. I 
believe that the age may come when there will be as 
passionate an admiration for self-sacrifice as there was 
once for mere power and splendor, — an age when the 
passionate admiration for Christ and those who follow 
in his spirit will sweep the world away. This is 
quite possible; there are some signs of it around us. 

If I were to say that all gratitude conceivable for 
benefit at another's cost, and by another's blood, is 
felt, and that the whole homage of the soul is due to 
Christ from us sinful and dying men, in that he lifted 
us up and brought our "life and immortality to light," 
and if our hearts go with this, then I say we begin to 
feel the whole round of the glory of Christ. 

The question, then, is, "What think ye of Christ.?" 
No matter what we profess; is there here something 
which thrills our hearts with its highest admiration 
and love, or not.? If not, then deliberately under- 
stand that we are blind, for "There standeth one 
among you whom ye know not." For it is all there, 
"the fulness of the Godhead;" and if we see nothing, 
judge we of the inferiority of our hearts, for the degree 


of our admiration of Christ will measure exactly how 
admirable we are. On this judgment day and on all 
judgment days to come, " What think ye of Christ ? " 
must be the test of judgment. 

Conscious of my sins and ignorant of the future, do 
I fall down before him who has redeemed me, and say, 
with a passion of gratitude, " My Redeemer, my Lord, 
and my God " } Then, be sure the covering of homeli- 
ness is all gone, and we know him whom to know 
aright is life eternal. 



The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was 
lost. — Luke xix. lo. 

" " I ^HE Son of man." This designation of himself 
-■- was the favorite; it is an assertion of his 
humanity, but eminent and singular, — the one emi- 
nent in humanness. It was his humility and his love 
which led him to choose it. It is quite consistent that 
he whose description of his own heart was, "I am 
meek and lowly," should feel it more congenial to call 
himself the Son of man than a King or even the Son 
of God. It was a disposition ever to descend. When 
we think of the titles of history, of the elaborate lists 
of heraldry, — the Assyrian heraldry, the Persian, Egyp- 
tian, Greek, Roman, or of modern Europe; nay, when 
we come down to think of ourselves, to whom high 
titles are so extravagantly dear, so that to many 
eyes, when a prince passes by, a lustre fills the air; 
then let us remember that his title of choice was vian. 
He passed through the treasuries of the Hebrew 
prophets, where all resplendent descriptions of the 
Messiah lay thick like heaps of stars, — thrones, domi- 
nations, princedoms, — and he found there in the 


prophet Daniel this one, the least of all, but which 
expressed his heart the best. 

The feeling of this act was just an affectionate 
claim to be one of the family, — a family endeared to 
him by his own love to them, by his sufferings for 
them, and because he belonged to them and they to 
him. Never was such honor put upon the human race 
as when Christ not only belonged to them, but claimed 
to belong to them, and constantly repeated that he 
was one of them. "The Son of man," claiming that 
he was not the son of the Jew, though the Jew seemed 
to be the sole heir of the promises; not the son of the 
elegant and spirited Greek, nor of the Roman, nor of 
the barbarian, but the Son of man, belonging to each 
household of the earth. 

One other thought about this title. I do not think 
he ever uses it merely as a general description of him- 
self, but also to exhibit some precise suitableness of a 
person of that description — the Son of man — to the 
matter he is then speaking of. He had just been in 
the house of Zaccheus the publican, and had won him 
to himself, and blessed him; and we know how the 
Pharisees would feel in regard to such treatment of a 
publican. So he says, "The Son of man is come to 
seek and to save that which was lost. " 

We see the connection between who he was and 
what he was come to do. And now what was he come 
to do.'* To save the lost, he says. The lost.^* Who 
are they.^ All are lost, and have wandered from the 


right way. Yes; and he came to recover all. But 
here he means those specially lost. Yet there are two 
sorts of these : there are those who have no special 
excuse for their degradation, just wilful, hardened, 
brutal sinners, and these were not the persons he had 
in mind. It was another sort, and I should describe 
them first, as people who had some special excuse; 
second, those who were also specially sufferers for 
their faults. 

I say people who had some special excuse, whose 
guilt had much of misfortune mixed with it. Placed 
and surrounded badly, their sin was in some measure 
a fate, a pitiable fate, rather than a choice. And if 
to this we add that they did not go wrong merely from 
a wrong heart, but partly from many better feelings, — 
oftentimes rich affections and rich imaginations en- 
tangling and abusing and ruining them, — then we have 
before us the people in the world who seemed most to 
interest the Saviour of the world ; for he saw them not 
only pitiable in their sin, but, if possible, more emi- 
nent as sufferers than as sinners, for society and law 
make few nice distinctions as to the hearts of men. 
There are a few great faults which, no matter what 
the history and character of the person may be, the 
world visits (and which many say the necessities of 
the world must visit) with irreversible and hopeless 
condemnation. Yet, whatever the world thinks, these 
are the lost of his Father's flock whom he came to 
seek and to save. I believe I am correct in saying 


that just this is the class; for I believe that just these 
and such as are similar to these would be likely to 
attract the attention of such a Being as he was. They 
never did attract the world's best and wisest, for none 
of them were high enough for this ; but they attracted 
Him who saw, through his perfect heart of justice and 
through his perfect heart of love, what no other eyes 
could see. 

I say, then, his special interest was in these, and 
his hope also. To philosophers then and always, these 
were of the hopeless classes, to be swept into the refuse 
heap of the world. He saw better; he was hopeful of 
them because he saw under the sin and suffering and 
outside hardness and repulsiveness; he felt that they 
retained amid such debasement a germ of the better 
life, something which seemed small, "even as a grain 
of mustard seed," something which had retired far into 
the centre, and perhaps was lost to the consciousness 
of the heart itself, but he knew that it was there and 
counted on it; he knew that it was the very principle 
of goodness and love, though in hearts grown bad and 
hateful, and he knew that sympathy alone could call 
it forth. So he went among them and ate with them, 
and was called their friend, and with a deep and 
solemn pity — not a philanthropist's pity for the race 
at large, but a tenderness and interest and hopefulness 
for this man and that woman — he aroused new life 
in the guilty and hopeless heart; and so the outcast 
woman we find washing his feet even with her tears, 


and we find the chief of the sordid publicans cries out, 
" Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the 
poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by 
false accusation, I restore him fourfold." 

When this wonderful Being once said, *'A11 power 
is given unto me in heaven and in earth," do we sup- 
pose he meant that vulgar thing we call power, — 
material force, thrones, and what not? Not at all. 
He knew what power was; he felt that the charity, 
faith, hope, within him were not figuratively, but 
literally divine, and that there was that in human 
hearts which, if the charity of his own spirit but 
touched them, would break into conflagration; he 
knew that there was a principle of order, of holiness, 
of love, at the bottom of all this chaos, which would 
stand forth when the power of his charity and hope 
touched it. 

Before and since Christ many other methods have 
been resorted to. Lawgivers, moralists, men of the 
world, have all, either from a mere one-sided sense of 
justice, or from a mere one-sided feeling of pity, or 
from a moral indifference, or from a hopelessness as 
to the transgressor, — from these causes, felt incorrectly 
as to sin, and so dealt as to it in a manner both bung- 
ling and inefficient. Now if I knew nothing of Christ 
but of the justness of his feelings here, and the power 
of his treatment, I would suspect something beyond 
human. Did the severity of others — or, as they call 
it, their justice — crush the springs of the spirit? 


The bruised reed he did not break Did the weak 
pity of others enervate and deaden the conscience? 
His holy mercy aroused the conscience most, even 
when most he soothed it. Did contempt and Pharisaic 
separatism keep the upright apart from the sinner ? To 
him the outcast was never an outcast. Did hopeless- 
ness keep good men from efforts to reform him ? Not 
so he. He, being the very spirit of charity, and 
believing all things, and so confiding even in the out- 
cast, and so hoping, — he gave hope, and touched and 
aroused the sunken heart. Did others sacrifice justice 
to pity or pity to justice? But not he. While he 
forgave, never was there such a depth of condemna- 
tion; while he condemned, never was there such depth 
and utterness of mercy. Who ever were abused by 
his free forgiveness so as to make light of sin? or who 
ever were abused by his awful sense of sin so as to 
despair of mercy? None. Listen one moment to his 
simple, divine method of dealing with sin. 

On the one hand, he placed his calm and majestic 
purity by the side of impurity; his humility, patience, 
disinterestedness, by the side of conceit and selfish 
hardness; his solemn depth by the side of the frivolity 
of all that is human ; and there they stood together, 
and so the light revealed the darkness, and all suscepti- 
ble hearts were convinced of their sin and condemned. 

Yet, on the other hand, as he bent down and said, 
"The Son of man is come to seek and to save that 
which was lost," the unfortunate and humble lifted up 


their heads at the strange sound, and saw a face which, 
while touched as it was with an infinite sorrow, was 
yet full of mercy and hope and a sort of divine con- 
sideration of them; and so then the heart melted and 
broke within them. 

Now, ye princes and wise men, philosophers, ye 
holy men, founders of religions, come here and learn 
of the Son of God a foolishness wiser than men, a 
weakness stronger. So when he reaches forth his 
hand and lifts the down-fallen and says, " Go in peace; 
neither do I condemn thee; go and sin no more," a 
new sense of holiness abases, a new sense of love and 
hope uplifts, new life and power fill the soul; the 
lame leap; the tongue of the dumb sings. This is 
the theory of Christianity as to the restoration of the 
human soul, of all souls. 

He knew, it seems, or he felt, and he alone, the 
precise spot where this ruined being could be touched, 
and he touched him just there; and the dead soul felt 
it had become a living soul, and from that living 
centre a divine leaven worked out through all the 
lump. One spark of such gratitude, adoration, hope, 
kindled was a literal resurrection of the heart, "ac- 
cording to the working of his mighty power. " Now 
just this is the new birth, the germination of God's 
image under the atmosphere of Christ's kindness, — a 
birth ever repeated in us, from high to higher, forever. 

This is Christianity at its top. The Bible has 
given us several ideas, it presents several aspects, any 


one of which, if vitally seized, will quicken the soul. 
Law, for example, its holiness, the charm of its obedi- 
ence, — that is one; the soul's possibilities, — that is 
another; the soul's free access to and dependence on 
God, personal loyalty to a Being who is the express 
image of God, — such as these; but there is something 
above all, when the feeling of the soul is " de pro- 
fundis," when the feeling is of an outcast soul in the 
depths of conscious sin, feebleness, ruin, then made 
aware that it is reached down to by the One who sacri- 
ficed himself to reach it "with strong crying and 
tears." The experience of that is Christianity at its 
top. " The Son of man is come to seek and to save 
that which was lost. " 

There are people who have a sense that all is not 
right, perhaps a sad sense of fault ; people who are 
sinners indeed, but not proud sinners, who hear the 
offers of divine mercy with a heart not altogether in- 
sensible, who, though they daily do violence to the 
Spirit of grace, which is always pointing them to the 
better way, yet are not at peace, but at times, in view 
of what they ought to be, in view of death, in view of 
the goodness which has created and kept them, and at 
its own cost redeemed them, yearn towards the good 
and right way. Such people are in some measure 
conscious that they are of that which is lost, and the 
Son of man is come to seek and to save them. 

He has come, then, to every soul, no matter how 
hard and stony it is, how unbelieving and even scorn- 


ing, if it reflects wisely for one moment. Then I put 
to them these three questions : Is it not possible that 
there is a God? Is it not possible that the soul is 
immortal ? Is it not possible that the habits of good 
and evil begun now in the soul will be continued, will 
be fixed and expanded ? — that is, is there not essen- 
tially some sort of heaven or hell impending before 
every soul? If these things are possible, who is 
ready for death? Who does not wish light, aid, as- 
surance? Who does not wish to hear of a God, — such 
a God as Jesus Christ represents, who " is come to 
seek and to save that which was lost " ? 

Then that crown of thorns becomes to our eyes 
the golden round of universal sovereignty, and the 
sneering "Hail, King of the Jews!" becomes the 
announcement to our ears of that universal "All 
hail! " when "every knee shall bow, and every tongue 
confess that Jesus Christ is Lord," when all creatures 
shall cast down their crowns before him, and say, 
" Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, 
and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and 
glory, and blessing." 


A fid the Pharisees and scribes fmirmured, saying, This 7nan 
receiveth sinners, and eateth with them. — Luke xv. 2. 

TF we fix our attention upon anything concerning 
^ our Lord wtiich was a matter of peculiar reproach 
and contempt through his life, we shall find that thing, 
whatever it is, now regarded with peculiar honor, and 
just in proportion as it sunk him in the esteem of that 
generation, it elevates him in the reverence of man- 
kind through all periods. His poverty, the simplicity 
of his life, the companions he chose, the seeming 
splendor of the destiny he rejected, the seeming plain- 
ness (and humility) of that which he assumed, the low- 
liness of his temper, the scorns and foul degradations 
put upon him, the low associations connected with 
him, from birth to death, the trough or manger of a 
stable his couch on his first day, lifted on a cross 
between thieves on his last day, and between these 
points living in the obscure house of a carpenter or 
wandering about homeless, — "The foxes have their 
holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son 
of man hath not where to lay his head," — all this, I 
say, is now transfigured into lustre and glory, so much 



so, indeed, that I believe it is almost impossible for 
any one to think of the mean circumstances of his life 
as they were when everything has suffered such a 
lustrous change, such a dignity has his character at- 
tached to every point of his condition. There is a 
deep significance in all this for all men; let them 
know, from this great story of the Lord Jesus, that the 
true life is ultimately the splendid life. Good, just, 
holy living, cover it with oppression, degradation, and 
deformity, if we can, must be brought forth at last 
with the lustre of light and of noonday, and will cover 
every object about it with regal coloring. As the 
light in the pure and beautiful water turns the most 
homely objects seen in its depths into things rare and 
strange; as the heavy, dank vapors of the earth, so 
soon as they are drawn around the sun, become like 
very curtains of the Temple of God, — so can all things, 
mean or common, in the lives of men be changed, 
controlled, exalted by the excellence of the spirit that 
is in them. It would be worth our while to remember 
this. Men wish to enlarge their sphere; they feel 
their circumstances too mean and contracted for great 
actions. We are small men, they feel, because our 
sphere is small. How we mistake! our greatness is 
not without us, but within. Just that life now and here 
which we live (I care not how petty its circumstances) 
has in it all the elements of the grandest success, and 
it only waits for us to call them forth. Perhaps I may 
say that every man, however low, is born into a condi- 


tion fitted for immortal results, and may cover that 
condition with divine effulgence. Let the meanest 
know, though his dwelling be a hut, he may make it 
a spot which the invisible angels will delight to visit, 
and that he may go out and in as a king and priest 
unto God. We can imagine how the plain, familiar 
faces and homely Jewish clothing of Peter and James 
and John were changed and illuminated on the Mount 
of Transfiguration into the beauty of princes of a 
celestial host; and in this we behold in figure the 
grander transformation which God has put in the 
power of every man. Jesus, " the friend of publicans 
and sinners," was once the most contemptuous epithet 
that age could select, yet now, of all the wonderful 
titles, I know of none more sweet or of a more divine 

The publicans were a notorious and infamous class 
among the Jews. If they had been mere collectors of 
the odious revenue due a foreign government, that 
office would have made them hateful enough; but, 
besides this, they v/ere usually a very unprincipled, 
oppressive, and base set of men. As the revenue was 
farmed out to them, it was their interest to grind the 
face of the poor, to lay the tax exorbitantly where 
parties from weakness or ignorance or fear would not 
dispute it. Besides, the most of these publicans were 
no doubt Jews ; and as a Jew who would accept the 
office of tax-gatherer for the Romans would be ranked 
as a renegade or traitor by his own countrymen, he 


must have been of the very lowest sort before he came 
into the office. When in it, he no doubt would sink 
lower and lower from the very nature of the business, 
but chiefly from the contempt and hatred he met with; 
for nothing is more true in human nature than that 
men tend to rate themselves very much as others rate 
them, and on this account alone it is prudent, for the 
sake of the effect on his own character, that a man 
never allow himself to be in a position where opinion 
may act injuriously upon him. Considering, then, the 
general character of the Jewish population at that time 
(which was by no means high), and considering that 
a publican was at the lowest round in social rank, we 
will not be likely to form too low a notion of him. 
These underlings of the revenue were ex officio out- 
casts, and are always ranked with sinners, and even 
criminals. Such, then, was the publican. But who 
were these sinners.'* They were openly bad livers of 
all classes and sexes, — profligate women matured or in 
apprenticeship to wickedness, undetected thieves, the 
people to whom there was no law or check but fear of 
public penalty. Now these were the people of whom 
Jesus was called the friend. "The friend of publicans 
and sinners:" there was truth in this charge, but 
there was falsehood in it also ; slander rarely gives 
either its malicious truth or its malicious lies singly 
or purely. He was, indeed, the friend of the publican 
and the sinner, in that the outcasts were dear to him, 
in that he desired to save them from their sins, and for 


that purpose went among them. But the charge meant 
more than this, — namely, to intimate indirectly that he 
was somewhat of the same character; that these were 
his chosen companions. No man could accuse that 
spotless Being of sin, but something of the sort could 
be surmised by a hint as to his company. Thus it 
ever is. Goodness may be misconstrued even when 
engaged in its holiest offices; and he who hopes to 
escape detraction must cease to act in the society of 
men. But perhaps the most of those who made this 
charge did not mean it in so bad a sense. One thing, 
however, was meant by all the Pharisees and the whole 
of the higher class of the nation, — namely, that in keep- 
ing the company of publicans and sinners, and address- 
ing himself to them, he forfeited all claims to respect. 
First, because these people were of the poorer or 
lower order; second, as they were transgressors. 
The higher class of the Jews was, I think, the most 
intensely and offensively aristocratic class ever known. 
With all of them it was an aristocracy of prosperity, 
and with a large portion of them (I allude specially to 
the Pharisees), an aristocracy of righteousness. As to 
the poor or the unfortunate, the prosperous held them 
in peculiar contempt; they had an opinion that who- 
ever flourished was worthy to flourish and had the seal 
of God's favor, and that whoever was afflicted was 
justly condemned. This opinion took its warrant 
from some things in the Mosaic system, and was be- 
sides a belief widespread in the East and of great 


antiquity. There is a strong expression of it in the 
ancient book of Job; and as it has some base in truth 
and human nature, we shall find it in some degree 
everywhere and perhaps in every bosom. "I know," 
said a great statesman after a life's experience, — "I 
know that misfortune is not made to win respect from 
ordinary minds; I know there is a leaning to pros- 
perity, however obtained, and a prejudice in its favor." 
With men at large but a prejudice; with these Jews, a 
matter of religious faith. They regarded themselves, 
then, as accepted of God, and those below them as in 
a sense rejected. As a consequence, they looked for 
the Messiah as a Messiah to them of their class, a 
prince to give dignity and honor to Israel, and to the 
rulers and nobles of Israel. We can imagine, there- 
fore, the intense contempt in which they held a 
teacher who, neglecting them, associated himself with 
those whom God had refused. Now, in addition to 
this aristocracy of prosperity, the Pharisees were an 
aristocracy of righteousness, and on this ground cast 
out and hated others. Though a most hateful and 
enormous self-complacency was at the bottom of the 
Pharisee's feeling towards the sinners, yet as it was a 
religion with him, he set no bounds to his contempt 
and hatred. Thus the publicans and sinners became 
by a double title contemptible both as unfortunate and 
wicked; and he who was the friend of such was of 
course swept into the same class with them. Here, 
then, are the meaning and the force of the reproach: 


he is the "friend of publicans and sinners;" he a 
teacher who instructs them, — such a Teacher! he a 
prophet whose mission not only embraces these, but 
prefers them to us; above all (ineffable insult), this is 
the Messiah who comes eating and drinking with 
publicans, and who neglects and repudiates us, the 
princes of the congregation. Such a Messiah ! Christ, 
then, could only be the friend of the wretched at the 
expense of the friendship of whatever was powerful or 
honorable in the State. It was thus a most costly act 
of charity to face, for the sake of these poor creatures, 
the intense, uncompromising prejudices of the time; 
and if the dignity of virtue is to be estimated in pro- 
portion to its cost, it was an act of the noblest dignity. 
Besides, Christ came to establish himself as the 
Messiah, and to secure success to that was the one 
dear and sublime purpose of his heart. But, judging 
him as a man, he risks the whole of his destiny, 
because he would not neglect the sinful and the poor, 
and because he would make no compromise with the 
powerful. Moreover, by this course, he vindicated, in 
the face of all temptation to the contrary, the true 
idea of God's Messiah, the true idea indeed of all 
religion ; and what is that } To meet the real wants of 
mankind, and not the fancies of a party ; to give hap- 
piness to the afflicted; to give holiness to the sinful, 
— that is, to be "the friend of publicans and sinners," 
for they represent all those who truly need. Setting 
aside with fine elevation the desire to please any artifi- 


cial class or to build up the vulgar greatness of an 
external reign, he came as the curer of the ills of 
human nature itself wherever the heart is made sen- 
sible of them, and to establish his kingdom on the 
broad base of the common human heart, as wide as its 
wants and its woes. When, therefore, with divine 
humbleness he stooped to company with the outcast, 
he appeared to the world an exhibition of the pro- 
foundest idea of what should be the religion of a 
world. But, apart from all general views, what a world 
of love, of brotherly pity, of tenderness, of long-suffer- 
ing gentleness, rises up before us when we think of 
Jesus as "the friend of publicans and sinners; " Jesus, 
the holy and the undefiled one; Jesus, whose soul was 
peace and dignity and love; Jesus, standing in the 
midst of the corrupt, the abased, the unhappy men of 
his time, as their special friend. "He came to seek 
and to save that which was lost," The dark, forsaken, 
discouraged heart whom conscience and man and God 
forbid to hope, is met by this new messenger with the 
good news that there is yet hope. He stoops to us 
not to judge us, but to save. There is no despair 
where he is; the light of hope goes with him; he will 
not break the bruised reed. 



And when it was day^ he called unto him his disciples : and of 
thetn he chose twelve^ whotn also he named Apostles. — Luke 
vi. 13. 

WHEN the Lord began to teach and to preach, he 
naturally attracted some susceptible souls, for 
the morally susceptible soul, wherever it sees moral 
elevation, longs to go after it. Others he called to 
follow him. The result was that he not only taught 
the people at large, but carried with him a college of 
learners, of men training in a heavenly school. Of 
course, not all these always literally followed him, but 
they called him "Master," were special scholars and 
servants of his will, and were often with him. 

From these, after he had had some experience of 
them, he chose an inner circle of twelve, — a more 
manageable body, who could always be near him and 
under the full impression of his character and teach- 
ing. From that moment the work of Christ, while he 
scattered truth and goodness, seems to have been 
chiefly the training of twelve men. 

There was this reason for it. When he first an- 
nounced the kingdom of heaven, all good Jews he felt 


might follow him; but as his divine peculiarities came 
forward, as his un-Jewish truths and spirit were seen, 
a winnowing process began, the mere Jews dropped 
off, and he felt, amid the general coldness and deser- 
tion, that a firm few must be made ready as founda- 
tions for his future church. He knew that there was 
a moment coming when, unless his likeness was deeply 
seated in a few hearts, the very memory of him would 
vanish, or sink in ignominy, and his image — even 
his — be covered with darkness. 

So he chose twelve; and who were they.^ Intel- 
lectually they were not perhaps superior people; supe- 
rior people are not very common, and his choice was 
limited at the time. But I am not at all sure that he 
wished to choose what we should call the best. He 
did not want great men, who w^ould naturally set up 
themselves and their ideas; he wanted men who were 
little children, so simple and receptive that they 
would take into their hearts the full image of himself, — 
men who were his echoes and his other self, reflecting 
him to the world. For Christianity is not a doctrine: 
it is a Person, the man Christ Jesus; and whoever 
most fully received and re-presented him was his best 
apostle. They were, then, just plain men of Galilee, 
and most of them taken from a little circle of fisher- 
men whom he happened to know on the banks of the 
Sea of Galilee. 

There was a world's work to do, yet he chose the 
workmen simply on the ground of attachment to him- 


self; he chose them by the one test that they chose 
him, — that they were reverential, receptive hearts. 
But this cannot be, we may say, for there is nothing 
more marked than the fact of his choosing and calling 
them: "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen 
you. " If any wish or act of Christ is distinctly marked, 
it is this, — that he wished to call and did call, as if 
regally, certain persons, some of them apparently 
strangers, and said, " Come, I have need of you ; 
follow me;" and they followed. Yes, this is true; 
but still they chose him, for at his first word they 
responded to him unhesitatingly, they left all, they 
followed him. 

Others to whom he gave the same command hesitated 
or declined to follow. Even those who called him 
Master, and were much moved by him, stopped when 
he said, "Leave all; follow." The rich young man, 
so good a nature that he had a charm for Christ, hesi- 
tated, and went sorrowing away. Another, an ardent 
soul, burst out, "Master, I will follow thee whither- 
soever thou goest," but he soon made excuses, and 
failed. Multitudes failed; but these apostles gave 
the true apostolic sign for which he looked, — namely, 
a prompt and complete stripping of themselves and 
going where he went. 

He seems scarcely to have looked for any other 
sign. This being given, he seems to have meant to 
show what can be made of the common man, — to 
exhibit the triumph of what the world calls ordinary, 


the triumph of mere heart. It was not only that they 
were poor and unlettered men ; they were also men of 
plain minds, slow, sometimes even obtuse, and to 
them their Master's quick and deep imagination and 
fertile thought were always confusing and perplexing, 
his words enigmas, he himself an Enigma. We see 
no signs in any of them of even special strength and 
boldness of will (Peter excepted), — that is, no great 
power of initiative. He took, then, common men 
with real human hearts, and made out of them the 
corner-stones, not only of the purest civilization, but 
of that church which in its idea means the very king- 
dom of heaven. 

Here, then, in this fact of his choice of twelve 
church princes, Christ showed more perhaps than in 
anything else the value he set on men who have hearts 
in them, — their value, both as organs of truth and 
as organs of power. And if any man would know 
whether he has been selected for a place and leader- 
ship in the kingdom of God, let him ask himself if 
his heart leans promptly to Christ's voice or to any 
high voice, — leans promptly and surrenders itself 

So Christ called his apostles. Now how did he 
treat them when called.? We are first struck by his 
patience with them and his noble constancy. Having 
adopted them, though he found not once, but daily that 
they were almost hopelessly ignorant, weak, trying 
men, yet he never gave them up. "Having loved his 


own, he loved them unto the end." He dismissed 
none, made no other choice, bore with them, and 
carried them through. He found Judas, for example, 
after he came to know him, a much lower man than he 
had seemed at first, — a very low man indeed, I pre- 
sume, all through, — but the Lord never thought of 
giving him up; he trusted that his mercy and long- 
suffering would win them from their poor selves; he 
trusted that his unchanging kindness would touch 
and expand their affection for him until it filled their 
whole souls, though the change was as slow as the 
growth of a plant. 

The education he gave them was wonderful; by a 
sort of family intercourse he led them into his spirit, 
into his quiet and simple truths. It was but two or 
three years, perhaps but one, yet one year altogether 
with Christ. I wish we could think of it naturally. 
Most of us think of it as if they went about feeling 
that they were with a supernatural person, a sort of 
angel, or at least the Messiah ; but in fact, and for a 
long time, they thought of him only as a great Rabbi, 
a modern prophet, a new teacher and purifier of the 
people, and their intercourse with him, while it was 
generally reverential on their part, was quite simple; 
and so he naturally influenced and formed them, as 
one man would another. His spirit crept into their 
hearts as a bright dye colors a garment. Then, be- 
sides, he knew each of them so well that he not only 
corrected in a general way their false notions, forcing 


their low hearts up to higher feelings, but, better still, 
he finely adapted himself to each, as the prophet 
stretched himself upon the dead child, imparting to 
the cold clay the warmth of his life. 

Never was there a body of men chosen by a finer 
eye, better tested and trained and more nobly clung 
to than these. And now the result. What was their 
career.? In my honest thought, it seems to belie their 
choice and their training. Most of them do nothing 
or next to nothing, — that is, so far as we know. 

Here are the names, — the original list of the 
apostles: "Simon, (whom he also named Peter) and 
Andrew his brother, James and John, Philip and 
Bartholomew, Matthew and Thomas, James the son 
of Alpheus, and Simon called Zelotes, and Judas, the 
brother of James, and Judas Iscariot." 

Now if we except Peter and John, we know little of 
the lives or acts of any of them. ]\Iatthew, indeed, 
gave us the inestimable treasure of the sayings of 
Christ; and of James we know something, but in him 
we have an apostle who, though earnest and of a 
strong character, seems to me to have done as much 
as in him lay — without intending it — to misrepresent 
and defeat the spread of the real spirit of Christ. 

Here, then, are ten apostles, most of whom did 
nothing, so far as we know, and one worse than noth- 
ing; and one other was Iscariot. Nay, so obscure 
were they that we are ignorant even as to the charac- 
ters of these men; they arc not at all individualized 


on the pages of the New Testament. The great 
painters, such as Leonardo, have made them indivi- 
dual enough on canvas; but except for our knowledge 
of the one trait of honest disbelief in Thomas, called 
Didymus, the rest of the eight are to us very much as 
men whose faces are covered with thick veils. 

And of their work, as I have said, we know nothing. 
How shall we account for this? Possibly some of 
them worked in directions from which the record could 
not come ; or some worked eastwardly, in places where 
there was less chance of success, — in regions which 
were in the line of decaying civilizations, — for the 
world even then was running west; and so what they 
did gradually faded out. I repeat, the work of some 
of them was not in the line of life and advance; and 
if so, there is a lesson here as to missionary work in 
this day. Since the dawn of modern history, working 
eastwardly has not been as fruitful as working west- 
wardly, following the path of the sun. For a man's 
work to live, it must be done in living places and take 
hold of a life which goes forward to the future. Pos- 
sibly these men were unfortunate in some other cir- 
cumstances. Some of them may have died early, or 
been slain, or their work usurped by more pushing 
people. Or perhaps the truth is that they were 
simple souls, who made no great noise, but carried 
quietly the story of Christ to places aside from the 
more public arenas. Whatever the truth may be, it is 
quite possible that each of them did a great work, and 


yet have sunk entirely out of sight in a generation or 

We must not judge much by the obscurity of their 
history; for, strange as it looks, the same thing is 
true in other cases where the persons at the time must 
have been conspicuously prominent. Take Mary the 
mother of Christ, for example, and all his early friends. 
Consecrated as they must have been, dear and sacred 
as associated with him, — they, with Mary Magdalene 
and the other women, being among the very chiefest 
actors at the resurrection (the greatest event of the 
world), — all pass away at once out of view, and not a 
glimpse of them is seen any more. But all remain 
known and illustrious to God. 

And so probably it was with the obscure apostles. 
All laid some great stones in the foundations of the 
church, though their work was afterwards covered by 
the illustrious names of Peter and Paul, for men like 
the illustrious name. But in the great ages of eternity 
each man's work shall be made manifest. The un- 
known laborer in the vineyard of his Master should 
remember that if he be quietly faithful where he 
stands, he belongs to the band of the eight obscure 
apostles, and that the work unrecognized by history 
will be acknowledged by the Judge, — "Well done, 
good and faithful." 

But, be the facts as they may, one thing is sure, — 
Christianity was spread and established, well estab- 
lished; and even the mistake, as it would seem in the 


choice of Judas, was, in fact, of grand result. For I 
believe the dark treachery of Judas, that black figure 
at the side of Christ, has added a singular color to the 
scene, revealing in a new light and just as by a sudden 
and brief darkness in the daylight,- — revealing by 
contrast that face of love and mercy which Judas 
betrayed. I believe that even the love of John has 
scarcely more unveiled the Lord of glory than has the 
treachery of Judas Iscariot. "The foolishness of God 
is wiser than men." So on the whole, and viewed in 
the coldest historical spirit, the choice of these apos- 
tles was made not fortuitously, but in the clear day- 
light, and the undesigned words of my text seem to 
have a fine significance, — "And when it was day, he 
called unto him his disciples, and of them he chose 
twelve. " 

We have seen in the choice of the apostles God's 
estimate of what is highest and most powerful in man. 
Wealth and refinement are good gifts; eloquence, 
knowledge, thought, are splendid gifts. But "though 
I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and 
have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a 
tinkling cymbal. Though I understand all mysteries, 
and all knowledge, I am nothing." There is a point, a 
centre, far within, which is the real and only seed of 
the kingdom of God, — that is, of the highest and 
most powerful in man, call it affection, reverence, 
child-like obedience to that which is above us; that 
feeling especially entertained towards the Being who 



is the express image of God; the knowing him (for 
the sheep know the voice of the Great Shepherd); the 
heartfelt response to him, — " Master, Redeemer, 
Lord, I know thee who thou art; I follow," — this is 
the only apostolic elevation, the real apostolic power 
in man. Simon Zelotes and the rest, I don't know 
how they looked, what manner of men they seemed; 
but what made them the Lord's apostles I do know; 
and Christians are simply men of the better heart; 
the Christian Church is the order of the heart. 

There is a Roman Catholic order called ''The Order 
of the Sacred Heart," — a beautiful title, apart from 
the grotesque legend out of which it grew. It pro- 
fesses to be an order of people whose bond is the most 
sacred and bleeding heart of Jesus. In essence it is 
to that order we must belong, our souls responding to 
the high and bleeding heart. 

Let us remember what it was that consoled the 
heart of Christ. It was that, among the lowly and 
simple, the heart was left sound. Amid the inequali- 
ties and bitter injustice of the world, he was thank- 
ful that after all the better part was given to these 
children. I know the feeling that was in the bosom 
of that beloved Master when he saw the prosperous 
and proud and learned pass by with a sneer, while 
the simple and good hearts listened readily. ** I thank 
thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because 
thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, 
and hast revealed them unto babes." 


I reiterate one thing, and let it dwell in our memo- 
ries, — that we rate high, choose as our portion, the 
apostolic heart; that we aspire to it for ourselves; 
that the mother teach it to her children; that the 
object of all education be to have hearts tender and 
true; that, amid all the apparatus and hubbub of 
education, the child and the man live listening to the 
eternal voice, — as the boy Samuel listened at mid- 
night in the silence of God's temple. From the 
listening, obeying heart, all light and all power come. 

The noblest miracles have not ceased; the apostolic 
heart still bears all the apostolic fruits, — for him; for 
others. The simplest man who has in him a depth of 
passion for Christ — nay, a depth of passion for any 
lofty object — renews, repeats, on this ground to-day, 
the wonders of the apostles, and moves forward the 
kingdom of God upon the earth. 



And he that sent 7ne is with 7ne . the Father hath not left me 
alone J for I do always those things that please him. Ashe 
spake these words, many believed on him. — John viii. 29, 30. 

T DO not know why, except it were the evident 
^ divineness in his manner and words. I wish now 
to speak solely of the solitude of Jesus Christ, and of 
the thoughts which grow out of that. I distinguish 
in the first place between solitude and solitariness, 
between aloneness and loneliness. First, of his soli- 
tude, or aloneness. I do not mean the solitude of 
place, that Jesus Christ was reserved or retired "from 
the cheerful ways of men;" for of all the eminently 
holy, and specially of all those claiming a mysterious 
character, he was the least alone, and borrowed the 
least of his power over the imaginations of men from 
the solitude of distance. Nor do I mean cither the 
solitude of a superstitious or ascetic or stern nature, — 
such as that of Elijah and John, whose souls were 
mountain solitudes as inaccessible as that of Ararat. 
"He came eating and drinking;" and so his statue, 
the image which truly represents the character of 
Jesus Christ among men, and those of his holiest 


ones, should not stand in quiet and awful temples 
only, surrounded by unstained and sacred air, but 
high in the midst of the open ways of cities, in the 
forums and market-places. Silent in the noise of the 
world, aloof in everlasting sanctity from all the cor- 
rupted currents of life, he must of course stand; but 
let him ever stand near to men, and the actual lives of 
men, — "the Son of man " among the sons of men. I 
mean, then, not ascetic retirement or ascetic reserve 
of spirit when I speak thus, but I mean simply the 
aloneness of pure superiority, the solitude of a nature 
made peculiar and made unknown, not by its mere 
difference from others, but purely by its elevation 
above others. All of us are in some measure cut off 
from the sympathy of our fellows, each according to 
the peculiarity of his character; but he was cut off by 
the immense peculiarity of his superiority; and hence 
it was and for no other reason that " He was in the 
world, and the world was made by him, and the 
world knew him not." In heart, in character, in 
thought and designs, the perfect man, the altogether 
enlarged and uncorrupted soul, was of necessity a 
stranger to the little and corrupt children of the world. 
Though he was far from being barred out from us by 
wilful or stern reserve, and though he sat down in our 
midst even as a simple and affectionate child, and 
drew nigh to us and broke down every wall of partition 
which divided the lofty from the low, still the great 
gulf remained, and he passed through his life in the 


most profound solitude ever known to man. No one 
not in some measure acquainted with the great reli- 
gious and mysterious characters of history can for a 
moment appreciate in how simple and easy a way he 
offered himself to the companionship of man. Not as 
king, as priest, as philosopher, sitting "far within," 
environed w4th superstitious dread; not as some half- 
natural and awful mystagogue; not even as one of the 
prophets; but as an unpretending friend or inmate of 
the household, he entered and stayed here among the 
dwellings of men; but still, in spite of all, "the world 
knew him not." Nay, the more familiar he made 
himself, the less he was understood, for the people 
always wish a great person to present himself as they 
think a great person ought. His heavenly order of 
greatness was all reality, all of the spirit, and adorned 
itself with nothing factitious and nothing of the world. 
So it was that while he put aside all those things 
which usually make a distance between great persons 
and the people, and stood bare in the simplicity of 
humanity, yet in fact the people could not come near 
him. Yes, mighty as were the separating facts, I 
mean that he seemed bent to overcome them and to 
make a union with man's heart even from the furthest 
distances. As to his holiness, for example: though it 
was as the word itself means separation, and though 
his holiness was an endless separation; though he was 
"separate from sinners " and "made higher and purer 
than the heavens;" yet he joined such simplicity, 


such lowliness, such mercy with his awful purity that 
the attraction seemed almost to draw the poorest heart 
into unison with him, at least into some recognition 
of him. And so for a time, to be sure, here and 
there, the people did seem to see a glimpse of him; 
but for a moment, and then again he walked an un- 
known figure among them. However thorough he 
made his union with man, there remained a celestial 
aloofness from all evil, a celestial difference in the 
whole being, which left him far more solitary than 
even the stern separation of the Hebrew prophets. 
So that after all, one of the spectators, one who had 
transcendent insight (I mean John the Baptist), said: 
"There standeth one among you whom ye know not; " 
for though he was (if the figure be allowed me) as the 
image of an illuminated man shining in a dark night, 
yet most strange to say the darkness was not aware 
that this was light, which fact is noticed in that 
wonderful description of Christ, — the beginning of 
the Gospel of Saint John: "The light shineth in dark- 
ness; and the darkness comprehended it not." Of 
course the same thing is essentially true now and of 
all men. To-day and here which of us know him? 
Though forever talked of and ever believed in, in the 
world, yet who sees him as he is? 

My second thought is Christ's loneliness. There 
may of course be much solitude and no loneliness; for 
loneliness is not merely separation, but is the sad 
sense of it. A man may be shut out from the pres- 


ence of others, yet a sense of their love and sympathy 
may make at any moment company and support for 
his heart. But to be misconceived and still more 
estranged from those we love, that makes the truest 
solitude, and gives it its bitterness. And this it was 
that made the life of Jesus Christ the loneliest life, so 
far as man was concerned, ever known on earth; for 
a heart can feel lonely just in proportion to its power 
of sympathy. A hard nature can never properly be 
alone, while affectionate souls can scoop out a bottom- 
less depth of solitude; and of all affectionate souls, 
his was unspeakably the deepest and highest and 
noblest. Had he been less a brother in sympathy and 
love; had he been merely a being transcendently 
exalted in the might of faith and holiness, and not 
also a being filled with purely human yearnings, the 
solitude of his spirit would have had no loneliness 
with it; he would have fed upon his own thoughts and 
lived upon his own actions. But as it was, here was 
the most sympathetic spirit without sympathy; I may 
say totally without it where he most gave ground for 
it, — I mean in respect to those ideas and that work 
which were his life. Continually seeking to be united 
to his few poor friends in his feelings and his 
thoughts, he was continually checked and disap- 
pointed. "O ye of little faith, how is it that ye do 
not understand .? " "O faithless and perverse genera- 
tion, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I 
suffer you? " Continually eager also that his message 


of mercy and freedom should be heard by an afflicted 
and enslaved world, he was yet always either alto- 
gether rejected or accepted only to be betrayed. " He 
came unto his own and his own received him not." 
Was there ever a statement like that.!* His best 
thoughts, such as it seems filled heaven with rapture 
("which things the angels desire to look into"), treated 
with contempt; infinite sacrifices of all sorts made 
for a being who presented the meanest and most un- 
gracious aspect to his eyes; such sacrifices as might 
melt rocks instead of hearts yet met with new out- 
rages, as if humanity endeavored to convince its Lord 
that they were not worth redeeming. Yet, under all 
this, though occasionally he broke forth into impa- 
tience and even indignation, yet he did not feel one 
touch of bitterness or contempt. All great men know 
that natures not kindred to theirs, natures which are 
closed against the noblest ideas, and closed too with 
indifference and contempt, they know that the sting 
of that more than all things calls out a responsive 
scorn and contempt of the heart. But I find noth- 
ing of it here. Whatever difficulties there are in 
doing so, I conceive of the man Christ Jesus on the 
side in which I am now regarding him as perfectly 
human, and I never willingly allow my belief in the 
higher aspect of his mysterious nature to impair or 
empty any of his purely human qualities. And so, 
thinking in this way, I believe the loneliness of his 
heart would have been so constant and so keen that 


this alone would have destroyed his life on earth, had 
it not been that shut out from one sort of sympathy 
with man, — a sympathy which gave him something, he 
divinely submitted, and divinely lost himself in an- 
other sort of sympathy, — the sympathy which gives. 
He made up for the want of sympathy towards him- 
self, by the sympathy which he gave to others; he 
became a father to those who would not be to him as 
a brother; and in the mercies and cares of a fatherly 
heart, he lost the sense of his own great solitude. 

I have fixed attention upon this view of Christ, 
because we are all destined to much solitude of the 
heart, — nay, it is the very state of man. Think of 
the crowd of peculiar natures cruelly misunderstood; 
of the prejudices which rise like a cloud from the pit, 
to shut man from his brother; to make even the good 
man turn away from the good man, because some base 
prepossession has seized his heart; and which makes 
the ill-treated man shut himself up in his own bosom 
and bar the door with iron. With these is the keenest 
sense that they are alone. So solitude is universal; 
if not from the superiority of nature, at least from the 
individuality which marks us. We are unlike, and 
there is much in each which cannot be readily under- 
stood, and this separates us from sympathy and gives 
the sense of loneliness. Or if not from this cause, 
then from the faintness with which each one conceives 
of the real experiences of every other, from the poor- 
ness of all mortal sympathy, we are alone even as to 


those nearest us in heart. It is surely so in the great 
experiences of life. These profound experiences, at 
least in their profoundest moments, always separate 
us, husband from wife, mother from child; and the 
whole weight falls upon a solitary soul. The heart 
then knoweth its own bitterness, and a stranger (who 
then is not a stranger!) doth not intermeddle. 

We can understand the real solitude in which multi- 
tudes spend their days when we remember those 
moments of real society sometimes accorded to them, 
when the dull and saddened heart meets in some 
quarter the acceptance and welcome it pines for. 

So far as I can understand God's purpose in this 
matter of the society and solitude of the spirit, it 
seems not to be designed that we should ever live 
without company and sympathy; but it is meant by 
separating us from man to give us a nobler, more last- 
ing, more satisfactory companionship, — for if any 
sincere man, from any cause, in any way is alone, let 
him rest in God and walk with him. "I am not 
alone, for the Father is with me." Dare then, weak- 
est of mortals, in this assurance to stand alone. Let 
us be true to our convictions; and though father and 
mother forsake us, the High One will take us up. If 
faithfulness to any truth, if loftiness of living make 
us singular and alone, and turn every face cold to us, 
there is another countenance in whose favor is life. 
"Rejoice and be exceeding glad, for great is your 
reward." But when I ask you to stand alone, do I 


ask you to be, as men say, self-reliant, self-sustained ? 
I mean no such thing. That I regard as one of the 
mightiest mistakes, one of the largest fragments of 
merely heathen, merely human morals, which is now 
left in Christian civilization. It did very well for 
Romans, and was very grand in its way; but the true 
light now shineth and reveals a way more excellent. 
The Christian solution of this great problem is doing 
the will of God, — to rest on the companionship of God ; 
to stand aloof from false supports of others or of my- 
self; and to rest full and square as a tower upon the 
true foundation, — independence of man high and vast, 
but only through a just and absolute dependence upon 
God; not self-reliance. There is not a word in the 
life and character of Christ which warrants the stoical 
idea of human nature, which is still left among the 
ideals of the world. In Christianity there is no such 
thing properly as self-reliance; it is God-reliance all 
through. Even he who claimed to have " life in him- 
self " (which, as I understand it, is the highest expres- 
sion of the right of his own proper being), he always 
is in the bosom of the Father, resting there with his 
whole weight of cares, of sorrows, of doubt, and 
gathering all his life from the absolute perfection of 
his dependence, and his spirit of sonship. 
"The Father hath not left me alone." 



Father^ I will that they also whom thoti hast given 7ne be with 
7ne where I am. — St. John xvii. 24. 

T)ERHAPS there is no passage in Scripture which 
-*- gives more light as to the future condition of 
Christians than that which I have just pronounced, — 
" Father, I will that they also whom thou hast given 
me be with me where I am." I say there is most 
interesting and impressive evidence as to the future 
condition of believers in the great fact here intimated, 
that they are to be with Christ. 

Had such a fact in no way been breathed in w^ords, 
we would have been assured of it from other things 
that we know. If the spirit hereafter is to exist in 
any nearer communion with God, it must in some way 
be brought nearer to Christ; for, as he is the image 
and representative of the divine nature, all the eleva- 
tion and all the heaven it can ever reach must be 
in being brought nearer to him and being with him 
where he is. In this view all created intelligence and 
virtue must be with him, as he is the eternal and full- 
orbed representative of God to all being, the sublime 
medium of spiritual as of all other influences; from 


his face all orders of creatures draw their light as this 
great planetary system draws its day from the foun- 
tain of the sun. He is the King of all heavens, pres- 
ent through all as the one great spirituality in whom 
all fulness dwells. 

But we are to be peculiarly present to him from his 
peculiar relation to us. Through love he was with us 
here on earth, on this low seat, became in a peculiar 
sense our brother, instituted a deep, finished fraternity 
with us in all things but sin. Will he then be absent 
from us when our souls shall have been purified into 
his divine image, and our vile bodies changed into 
the likeness of his glorious body.? Shall that union, 
begun under such dark circumstances, be broken at 
the moment when its real and splendid purpose shall 
just commence to be realized.'' This is made more 
clear if we attend to one point of our union with him, 
— namely, as our Redeemer. The nature of this 
union, though we know it in part, is yet immeasurably 
above our comprehension. The only other relation 
with which we can compare it is the relation which 
we hold to God as our Creator. The intimacy of the 
union between creature and Creator is such that the 
more it is reflected on the more astonishing it appears. 
Indeed this union is so intimate that there is nothing 
in which mere reason so completely fails as in at- 
tempting to draw a line of separation between God 
and his creatures, for our very substance, motion, life, 
is of, with, and in him. Yet it is certain that, near as 


this union is, it is not nearer than the mystic oneness 
of the redeemed and the Redeemer. What the Son 
of God as Creator is to the natural being of man the 
Son of God as Redeemer is to the spiritual being of 

This union must be closer, when once effected, 
between himself and spirits fallen and depraved than 
the union even with the angels who kept their first 
estate, for this reason and upon this universal law, — 
namely, that our sense of unity is in exact proportion 
to the extremes of disunion which are brought into 
harmony. The more discordant the sounds the more 
divine their unison, if indeed the skill of the artist 
can once effect that unison. Spirits which have 
known what sin is must know, if he calls them back 
to him, in a far deeper sense than others, what holi- 
ness is, what justice is, what pity and mercy are, — 
that is, they know God better and have profounder ties 
to him. They are the prodigal children of the house- 
hold, and as such they have, on the one hand, drawn 
out more of the Father's compassion, and on the 
other, they have an entirely new and deepened appre- 
ciation of his goodness; or, to express this great 
spiritual fact in very simple language, to whom much 
is forgiven the same love much. 

I say that from and out of the separation and hos- 
tility of men to God, God in Christ reconciling the 
world has formed the very deepest union conceivable, 
« — a union, perhaps, far more beyond his ordinary rela- 


tion to spirits (whatever their intellectual or external 
dignity may be) than we are used to think. This is 
true. It is true further that such a union formed with 
the spirit gives strong guaranties to the fact that 
wherever in all height or depth that spirit is, Christ 
will be present to it; nay, such a union, if we under- 
stood it, implies in its very essence this mutual pres- 
ence where nothing foreign intervenes. And what 
foreign can intervene, what creature, spirit or matter 
or order of things, can separate, where such a union 
is formed.? Where he is, there emphatically they 
must be also. That is the law of their destiny. 

Reasoning in this way from what we know, I might 
go on to add proof, for there is no fact as to our future 
condition of which there is more evidence than this. 
But this, though a just way of considering the fact, is 
by no means so simple and affecting as when we think 
of it as resulting from the desire of Christ. So I pass 
from this method of proof to the direct evidence of the 
text. " Father, I will that they also whom thou hast 
given me be with me where I am." 

"Father, I will." I do not remember anything like 
this expression in Scripture. It is a wish, a prayer; 
but it is something more, — it is the language of a 
prince or ruler stating a decree, with the sweetness 
and under the form of a filial wish, a son's desire. 
Considered as a wish, the certainty of the thing could 
in no other way be more touchingly assured to us. It 
is the wish of Jesus that he and the children God had 


given him should never be separated. "Father, I 
wish." His wish, with which God is ever well 
pleased, the wish of the only-begotten, the wish of 
the obedient child who was just now to offer himself 
up to death according to the paternal pleasure, — a 
wish that God will do what God will of himself 
delight to do, for it is just his wish also, and not 
less pleasing to him who hears it than to him who 
utters it. 

Had he no power, what wish of that Being could be 
refused.'' His wishes all nature hears with joy, and 
could she move she would rise up from all her foun- 
dations to meet them. The wish of the holiest, the 
truest, the most pitiful, — if that be unfulfilled, then 
power has deserted God, and sympathy with the divine 
has escaped out of the laws of nature and out of the 
hearts of spirits. 

It seems to me (knowing but a little of what Jesus 
Christ is) that, at the sound of that "Father, I wish," 
if the scope of the wish had been the destruction, or 
the new birth of all that is, on the very moment of 
the wish all that is would have "melted like breath 
into the wind," or stood up new-born through its deeps 
and heights. If it seems so to me, who know but a 
little of Jesus Christ, what must it seem to the Father, 
who knoweth him t " for no man knoweth the Son but 
the Father." 

But it stands written, "Father, I will," in spirit 
filially and humbly asking, but in reality declaring 



a decree, for all things are put under his feet, and he 
is the head over all things. 

From all views, then, it becomes as certain as the 
existence itself of Jesus Christ, that those whom the 
Father has given him shall be with him where he is. 
"With me where I am." Mark the affectionate repeti- 
tion, and so repeated, I think, to give us the sense of 
reality and perhaps of place, — no shadowy or visionary 
presence of a spirit, but with him and in the place 
where he is. He had taught his disciples that 
wherever his spirit was he was; that through all their 
afflictions and desertion in the world, wherever two or 
three were gathered together, "there am I in the 
midst of you." But this was another presence for 
which he prayed. 

I said that I did not know how in any way he could 
have given us such knowledge of the future as in these 
brief and childlike words, — "that they may be with 
me where I am." To be with him, no matter where 
he is ("no matter where, if he be still the same"); to 
see more clearly his heart ; to know what is the depth 
of those words, "the holiness of Christ," "the humil- 
ity of Christ," "the compassions of Christ;" to go 
through those deeps; to feel with celestial satisfaction 
that we are redeemed into the same image, — that all 
this is ours; that towards us it bends in eternal love; 
that we may speak out our whole gratitude to him, 
and may act out in noble, angelic works the whole 
content of our love, perhaps imitating his divine com- 


passions somewhere on the plains of creation in new 
devices, or it may be sacrifices of love, and bringing 
from far to his feet the offerings of our unspeakable 
tenderness. This is enough for my thought of what 
is "that better land." But it has pleased him to give 
us more; not only to be with him, but with him where 
he is. And where will he be.? Perhaps, it may be 
said, in the centre of whatever the heaven of heavens 
can afford of glory and riches and powers; for he hath 
passed up through all heavens, and is seated on the 
last height. Where he is — who, being the highest by 
inheritance, hath repurchased Godhead by sorrows and 
love — where he is, there is the secret spot of all 
blessedness, beauty, power. 

Who shall speak of that place.? Thrones and palms 
and star-paved heavens are but our poor and weak 
parables by which we set forth the dignity and power 
of spirit and its absolute regency over nature. But 
how the affections and thoughts and acts of the High- 
est will clothe themselves and appear in the redeemed 
and triumphal era, our mean images can hardly give 
us a hint of. This only we know, that where he is 
must be in the "very bosom of the Father," and that 
where he is, even there must his own be with him, 
that they may behold his glory. 

It must seem to others, it certainly always seems to 
me, whenever I speak of such things, as if I were a 
dreamer trying in my sleep to utter some splendid 
dream, and which the actual world, the common day- 


light, puts to shame; and I only assure myself when 
I open the Bible and find it is all as I have said. In 
the indescribable plainness, seriousness, soberness of 
this book, I find there is no exaggeration; it is all so 
as it is written. And if so, gracious God, what lives 
are we leading.^ "Father, I will that those whom 
thou hast given me" — those only! And am I of 
them.? Is not that the only question for a human 
being.? Are we as men given to him, our spirit, our 
life, yielded as a living gift to him.? For there is 
nothing capricious or arbitrary in this matter. As 
the destiny is so the spirit must be. And for such a 
destiny the spirit of Christ, a spirit holy, humble, and 
leaning altogether in affection upon him, that spirit 
which conceals under its simplicity the germ of all 
that is divine, — that spirit must be formed in us the 
preparation, the hope, the heirship of glory. 



And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto 
him a centurion, beseeching him. — St. Matt. viii. 5. 

\T 7E know the position of a Roman centurion, or 
^ ^ captain, and his usual character, — a machine 
of war. But war, while it brutalizes the inferior, 
sometimes ennobles and even softens, where the ele- 
ments are such as not to give way; and it is in this 
an emblem of the world itself as a state of discipline. 
A noble, affectionate, and religious soul seems to 
have been form.ed here, not perhaps from, but in spite 
of its trade. The elders of the Jewish synagogue in 
Capernaum described him as one who loved their 
nation and had built them a synagogue. 

It is a matter of doubt whether he may or may not 
have been what was called a proselyte of the gate, — ■ 
namely, one proselyted to the seven Noachic precepts, 
or the principles of natural religion contained under 
Judaism. But he was certainly one of a class who at 
that day had risen above the superstitions of the 
popular religion, and, attracted by the purity and 
solemnity of the Jewish faith, had followed it without 
coming under the ceremonial observances. 


Among these, this centurion stood distinguished by- 
devotion and munificence. A man, it would seem, of 
particularly tender affections; for if this were his 
servant who lay "sick of the palsy, grievously tor- 
mented," the feeling shown here by a Roman officer 
for his slave was very remarkable. We can well 
believe, however, anything high of the character of 
this man when we come to the style of feeling he 
showed toward Christ. We are not told what he had 
known of Christ, — he knew him only through pub- 
lic rumor, perhaps, or at most, as the multitudes; but 
here in him was a nature which seemed to turn 
promptly at the voice of the new Master. Here is the 
record: "There came unto him a centurion, beseech- 
ing him, and saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home 
sick of the palsy, grievously tormented. And Jesus 
saith unto him, I will come and heal him. The centu- 
rion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that 
thou shouldest come under my roof, but speak the word 
only, and my servant shall be healed. For I am a man 
under authority, having soldiers under me, and I say 
to this man. Go and he goeth; and to another. Come, 
and he cometh; and to my servant. Do this, and he 
doeth it. When Jesus heard it, he marvelled and said 
to them that followed. Verily I say unto you, I have 
not found so great faith, no, not in Israel." His con- 
ception of Christ seems more wonderful the more it 
is reflected on. " I am not worthy that thou should- 
est come under my roof", — that is, unaffected awe. 


"Speak the word only," — no nearness, no touch 
required, no media, no sense of weakness in the power. 
Beyond this, seethe illustration he uses: "For I am 
a man under authority," etc. He seems to have 
imaged Christ as standing at the centre of the flights 
of ministering spirits, despatching and recalling them, 
or as if all the multitudinous diseases of the world, 
and of course all its other evils, and much more all its 
good, nay, its facts and powers of whatever sort, — as if 
the whole moved at his word as the clouds of the 
whole heavens move before the wind; and of this he 
seems to have been as confident as if it were a sight 
before his eyes. His words indeed show a peculiar 
sort of certainty and confidence. *' When Jesus heard 
it, he marvelled," for there was, as he said, no such 
honor done him even in Israel, the country of faith, 
the seed of faith, the children and the ancestors of all 
the best faith of the world; for if they believed at 
all, how slowly, scrupulously, grudgingly ! And how 
meagrely they mounted from what he did to what he 
was ! There are only two grounds on which this can 
be accounted for. The Jews inherited from their 
traditions a restricted and carnal conception of the 
Messiah, and they themselves liked this sort of 
Messiah. So, as Christ did not suit them, they never 
construed anything in his favor, and underrated the 
noblest evidence. In a word, mean prepossessions 
abased them. 

But the pagan, standing at the gate of the Hebrews, 


fed only by its great conceptions, and less narrowed 
by any of its littlenesses, was far better prepared to 
receive a new messenger from God. He, if there 
were in him "the good and honest heart," would judge 
the Lord by truer measures, and by the spirit rather 
than by the traditional conception of the Christ or of 
his wonders. So it took but little of these external 
signs to convince such a heart, when once prepared to 
recognize truth in its lovely and authoritative features. 
The miracles he saw or heard of drew and fixed his 
eyes upon the Being, — upon the way he worked and 
lived, looked and spoke; and looking thus with open 
heart (this is all that is ever needed) the spirit within 
him rose up to the recognition of the fact that here 
indeed was one from God. Nay, the might of the 
impression made was such that power he felt was 
natural to Christ, and not measuring what was pos- 
sible to him by what he had seen or heard only, he 
measured the possible power by what his own pure 
heart taught him the Being was. Here was the secret 
of the difference between the rude but natural and 
manly heart of the Roman and the belittled Jew/. The 
one looked up at the sight with something of the 
round wide-open eye of the child, the other with an 
eye pinched down to a mere slit, ''peering and prying," 
as if afraid to meet any new and grand object ; and 
this difference is marked through all the early progress 
of the religion into every land where it came. 

Having seen the depth of this man's reverence, it 


IS scarcely worth while to notice distinctly that with 
this ingenuous reverence for Christ there went a deep 
consciousness of his own unworthiness in such a pres- 
ence, for reverence and humility are but two sides of 
the same thing. So he says, " Lord, I am not worthy 
that thou shouldest come under my roof." 

I find from this account that the following things 
may properly be said. First, we are struck, here and 
elsewhere, with the superior readiness of the Gentiles 
for the reception of truth; and the explanation of it 
is that all knowledge, even religious institutions and 
traditions so divinely founded as those of the Jews, 
unless the essentials of the spiritual heart keep their 
right place and subordinate them, will stand as bar- 
riers and blinds to the mind. 

It is so in the history of all religions. True reli- 
gion is simple in its origin, and appeals directly to 
the soul. But as men do not like the convictions and 
life of the soul as their religion, religion soon comes 
to be interpreted and discriminated and drawn out 
into a system which not only does not feed the heart, 
but stands in the way and clogs all the more sponta- 
neous life and light of the heart; so that when the 
new face of the truth is once more presented to them 
they either don't know it or are uneasy about it, and 
in either case are willing to reject and crucify it. 

Observe how, at this moment, the Lord, discerning 
all this and seeing how it would be worked out in 
after history (not merely as between Gentile and Jew, 


but as between any church and the paganism outside 
of it), said then, — and how solemnly said! — turning 
from the Roman soldier (as an image of the nation), 
" Many shall come from the east and west, and shall 
sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the 
kingdom of heaven; but the children of the kingdom 
shall be cast out into outer darkness." 

Perhaps the tendency most to be guarded against is 
the overlaying of the simple truth and heart of reli- 
gion with an exterior mass which withdraws regard 
from the centre, — a building upon the foundations of 
religion "wood, hay, and stubble." Where this is 
done, the few great religious acts and feelings founded 
on the few great truths are gladly deserted and got rid 
of, and the whole religious life is then made exterior 
and human. 

Accordingly, the heir of the promises is cast out, 
while the poor soul from the outside (as this centurion), 
left to nothing but itself and God, is nearer to the 
perception of the kingdom of heaven. The Pharisaic 
Jews, with the fumes of their religious conceits and 
opinions rising in clouds, made a low, dull sky of 
their own, which shut out the tender blue of the real 
heavens, and did not discern the sunrise ; but the simple 
soul whose atmosphere was filled with none of the 
vapors and obstructions of opinion and pride, saw the 
Sun of Righteousness, saw " the heights of the heavens, 
how high they were;" and so, "I am not worthy that 
thou shouldest come under mv roof." 


Again, I find here that that large class of persons 
who, in respect to Christianity and Christ, stand alto- 
gether on what they call proof, are very like to these 
Jews, and I find that this centurion represents not 
only the true heart, but the true philosophy, which 
judges religion by the light of the soul in combination 
with the inferior light of his understanding. It de- 
grades the name of proof. The petty discernments of 
the head, named with the spheral discernments of the 
soul, is but a good torch, or say even a great light set 
up under the boundless cave of the night; while the 
light of the soul, if it be not a sun, is the northern 
star, which trembles but is steady, which, though a 
spark, is eternal, and sends its single beam through 
all the spaces to guide all wanderers. 

The mere judgments of the mind are fatal, whether 
they be more or less refined, whether they be, "Search 
and see: no prophet can come out of Galilee," or the 
more exalted objections of modern thought. I wish 
my mind to be consulted, to be sure; but the unspeak- 
able assurances of my soul drown all the noises of the 
objections. Nay, if it reaches to the last analysis, it 
may be found that in everything but merely intellec- 
tual fact it is the heart that makes the understanding. 
But make it or not, certain I am that what suits my 
spirit, when my spirit is pure, is my truth, and whether 
I can make it consistent that the Christ can come out 
of Galilee or not, it is Christ still. What did this 
centurion know or care for the objections.^ 


I find also here in the affecting history of this 
man how beautiful a position of the human soul it is 
when it comes into the true relation to Jesus Christ. 
This entire confidence and reverence in what is alto- 
gether worthy of our confidence, — in him who, we may 
see if we look honestly, is the Son of God ; the 
rendering him the unbounded honor which is his due, 
and with it that just consciousness of ourselves that 
we are not worthy that he should come under our roof, 
— this, I think, every ingenuous heart must feel is 
just the true and beautiful place of a human spirit, did 
we know nothing of redemption; and ah! how much 
more when we do! — its true and beautiful place, and 
its place of unbounded success. "And Jesus said 
unto him, Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so 
be it done unto thee." 

And as he believed it was done unto him; and as I 
believe it shall be done unto me. And if I would 
measure how much shall be done unto me, I must 
measure it according to the greatness of my belief; 
and if I would measure the greatness of my belief, I 
may measure it by that of this Roman captain, which 
is authenticated by the author and finisher of faith 
himself, as larger and nobler than any of the faith of 
Israel: "Verily I say unto you, I have not found so 
great faith, no, not in Israel." 



And Jesiis said tmio him, Forbid him not: for he that is not 

against us, is for us. — St. Luke ix. 50. 
He that is not with me is against me; and he that gather eth not 

with me scattereth. — St. Luke xi. 23. 

IT is difficult to reach the full intent of these pas- 
sages. The critics explain substantially thus : 
The man who is mainly right, though in some degree 
wrong, I count as for me, for he is not against me. 
And on the other hand, the man who is not mainly 
with me, I count against me. That makes a very 
good meaning. It is as if Christ said, " I don't make 
much of nice points and inferior matters; I look to the 
central thing, and I count that the man who in the 
main is right, is for me, for he is clearly not against 
me." And a most encouraging thing this is to re- 
member, that though we go wrong in opinion, in 
points of creed, and even of practice, and though we 
are people of whom even the Apostle John might say, 
"Forbid him, for he follows not with us," yet, the 
main state of the heart settles it after all, and that 
only. And this explanation makes very good meaning 
on the other side also. He that is not really and 


mainly with me, though he believes a great deal and 
professes a great deal, is still against me; a very 
solemn warning to be sure. But this explanation, 
though good as far as it goes, does not go far enough; 
it does not tell us what that main thing is which 
settles the matter. If we do not know that, we have 
no real guidance. That, however, is indicated in the 
passages from which the texts are taken, if we attend 
to them, and it is well worth while to try and get the 
real meaning in so important a part of our Saviour's 

On one occasion, John saw a man who did not seem 
to recognize Christ, yet was using the power of 
Christ's name against a devil; and so John said to his 
Master, "We saw one casting out devils in thy name, 
and we forbad him, because he followeth not with 
us." Jesus answered: "Forbid him not; for he that is 
not against us, is for us." The Lord thought that at 
any rate this man was a fellow-workman against the 
kingdom of Satan, and so could not be against him, 
but for him. He seemed to think that the work a 
man consciously does is the main thing, and so he 
declares, without knowing his opinions, "that man 
can't be against me." Besides, the man used the 
power of Christ, and so our Lord adds (according to 
Saint Mark), "There is no man which shall do a mira- 
cle in my name that can lightly speak evil of me." He 
had faith that the man who worked with him and used 
his name to cast out devils, could not be in heart 


against him. *' Forbid him not; for he that is not 
against us is for us." So much for this side of the 
matter, — the first text. 

The second text occurs at the end of a remarkable 
passage, which I wish first to explain. 

When Christ, on a certain occasion, had been doing 
a mighty work in the dispossessing of devils, his 
enemies maliciously gave this account of his power: 
" He casteth out devils through Beelzebub, the chief of 
the devils." The Lord answered : "Beelzebub would 
hardly act against himself, and if I am the agent of 
Beelzebub, I would hardly spend his power in break- 
ing down his kingdom, — in casting out his devils. 
If Beelzebub goes on in this way, he '11 soon rid 
the earth of himself and of his spirits. A kingdom 
working against itself, 'a house divided against itself, 
cannot stand. ' So it is clear that these works of mine 
are done, not by or for Beelzebub, but against him, and 
that these works must be done through divine power, — 
* by the finger of God ; ' for there are but two powers, 
two kingdoms, — light and darkness, — and it is not 
less clear that if God, acting through me, is the stronger, 
then ' the kingdom of God is come upon you.' " This 
is the meaning of the passage. Now Christ ends it 
with this lesson: "As I have shown you that I, in not 
working for Beelzebub, am against him, so likewise, 
he that is not working for me is against me; he that 
does not operate for my kingdom, is against my king- 
dom. The test of a man is his work for or against 


the kingdom of God. If it goes to overthrow Satan, 
it is for me; if it goes for Satan, it is against me." 

So you see, that in both the texts it is indicated 
that the work a man does for or against the kingdom 
of light, is the test whether the man is for or against 
Christ. He says, "I find one man here following not 
with me, but really working for me and against the 
devil; that man, being surely not against me, is on my 
part. And I find another man who, under delusions, 
or pretence, seems to be working for me, but is really 
working to sustain some falsehood or wrong, — that 
man, being really not for me, is against me. ' By 
their fruits ye shall know them. ' I look to the work. 
He who works the same work I do, though for some 
reason he does not acknowledge me, is yet for me; 
and he that does not work with me, no matter what 
he says or seems, is against me." So we see a beauti- 
ful harmony in these opposing texts, I repeat. The 
Lord says, "I do not look, as my disciple John does, 
for unity in everything before I acknowledge that a 
man is with me; if he is not against me in his real 
work, I mercifully take him on my side, — he is with 
me. Where I can, my spirit is to include, not to 
exclude, embrace and not to reject. But if any one, 
be he pope or patriarch or bishop, whose real work is 
against light and for darkness, that man is against me, 
he gathereth not with me but scattercth. " In the 
light of these remarks we are now able to judge how 
superficial and injurious is the judgment of the cele- 


brated Renan on these passages, when he says, " Here 
are two rules of proselytism altogether opposed, and a 
contradiction brought in by a passionate partisanship.'* 

These views, if they be correct, settle some of the 
most important questions which have disturbed and 
injured the Christian world; but at present I can 
only speak of two or three things which I learn from 

The first is this: I think they give us a glimpse 
into the spirit of Christ. We know, if we are atten- 
tive to the New Testament, that no being could have 
insisted more upon the importance of his own person- 
ality. I mean this. If he were not divine, we all 
know that his sense of himself was such as became a 
divine thing, — that he evidently considered himself 
as the natural Regent and Leader and Saviour of the 
world, and that he exacted the recognition of himself, 
the deepest trust upon and devotion to himself, as the 
beginning and end of the life of a disciple. To be a 
Christian was just this, — to "follow him." He knew 
that the only powerful allegiance of the human heart 
was not to virtue, for that is too abstract. We love 
and owe allegiance to beings, and not to things or 
qualities. He knew that God himself, as a pure and 
infinite Spirit, was too unknown and distant an otject 
for the human heart, and would constantly become 
more so, as the mind of man progressed. So he knew 
that the sight of the divine man was the real desire, 
and demand, and necessity of all nations. Hence the 



magnificent prominence he gives to himself; he erects 
himself as the sight for every eye. Now, in view of 
this, how natural it was for John to repudiate the man 
who ''followed not with us;" and how astounding 
that Christ also did not repudiate him ! But, although 
the recognition and acknowledgment of himself was 
vital, there was one thing he knew not how to reject, 
— namely, the heart that loved, and worked for good ; 
and he risked what seemed the very foundation of 
Christianity, rather than exclude a man who worked 
for the kingdom of the light. He hoped, to be sure, 
and trusted that the man who cast out devils in his 
name, would not lightly speak evil of Him, — that, at 
least, he would not array himself against Him, and, 
perhaps, that hereafter, if not now, he would openly 
and fully acknowledge Him; but that was only the 
beautiful trust of his heart. However, whatever hap- 
pened, one thing he could not do, — namely, forbid 
the fellowship of any one who was really co-working 
with him. 

The next thing learned here is, that we have found 
a test to judge the Church and the world by. The 
Church, — is its motive love and its work love.^ Then, 
even if heretical, it is still for Christ. Not, of course, 
for him as it ought to be, not for him as if its belief 
were correct, — still the divine decision is that way. 
Or, is its motive and work not love, but the uphold- 
ing of what it thinks a true and ancient churchy while 
it is not at all working out the central spirit of Christ, 


— love to God and to man, then, though it stands in 
the same field with Christ, it is not as one of his 
angels who are gathering the sheaves with him, but as 
the dark man treading down and scattering. 

Apply the same test to the world. What is to-day- 
called the world may be split into two classes: the 
true world, — namely, those who are governed by 
sensual and selfish interests, or made respectable by 
prudence and outside good conduct; and next, that 
which is falsely called the world, — namely, men who, 
though not ranked among the churches, yet revere 
God and work for man; men who are willing to act for 
God and against the kingdom of Beelzebub. 

Now of these two classes the first — the world 
properly so called — is against Christ, for much of its 
work and all of its motive are not his. But no just 
man can so regard that other class, who, though not 
of the Church, still belong to it in some great essen- 
tials, and who are really helping forward the kingdom 
of light, as against the kingdom of darkness. What 
shall we say as to them "i I should say, " My brother, 
I differ from you greatly; I specially and deeply 
regret that you follow not with us, above all, if you 
have gone so far as to forget the adoration due to that 
name * which is above every name;* but I, for my 
part, will never call you an infidel, or any other harsh 
name, so long as you are true to your own heart, and 
are aspiring yourself to all light, and helping up your 
brother in all charity. God forbid! I will believe 


that, if the face of Jesus Christ could be truly seen by 
you, I am sure you would adore him; but while it is 
hidden, so long as you work in the light, so long you 
are no infidel to me. But yet, I pray you in Christ's 
stead, be ye reconciled to him, and accept him as 
the natural leader of men, the natural ' way, and 
truth, and life.'" The churches will have it that 
there are many parties, but, as I understand Christ, 
at bottom there are but two, — there are two camps 
the army which makes for good, and that which makes 
for evil. 

On the one side, the men who, in some shape, differ 
vastly, according to their conscience, temperament, 
taste, and powers, but all of whom are on the better 
side, and who will sacrifice something for that side, 
and who stand with the Great Being in nature in his 
work, — who, in effect, stand with Christ in his work, 
and are bent against all falsehood, all silly pride, 
against whatever is corrupt and low, with sincere 
effort aiming to dispossess the demons from human 
life, "good soldiers of Jesus Christ," whether they 
follow with us or not, — these on the one side; and the 
showy and bad world on the other. 

A Christian soldier is he who is (barring weak- 
ness) for everything good he knows or will know, and 
against everything evil he knows or will know, 
whether it is in his own heart or in the world. And 
I take it that the Christian soldier is also a believer, 
— that is, tending to, if he does not start with, all 


those beliefs which naturally and in due time recom- 
mend themselves to the good heart, to all those be- 
liefs which are suitable to its just development and 
growth, to all those beliefs which fill it with the spirit 
and the power of God, — and we should congratulate 
him for what he is, and point him up higher. If we 
do this, we will be acting in the spirit, not of John, 
who forbids, but of Christ, who accepts. Just so cer- 
tainly as Christ is true, will all they who have his 
spirit come finally to him. 



Ye are the light of the world. — Matt. v. 14. 

NO reflecting person can fail to see in the New 
Testament and to be constantly awed with the 
loftiness of the consciousness of Jesus Christ, specially 
when he uses such expressions as " I am the light of 
the world." But this consciousness is still more 
impressive when, as in the text, the feeling is betrayed 
that even those who were lit at his light, though they 
were but poor tapers, were yet so exalted by sharing 
in his splendor, that they became also as if fellow- 
lights in the firmament of heaven, "for signs, and for 
seasons, and for days, and for years. " 

No doubt he addressed his ignorant and obscure 
disciples in this way to give them such a mighty sense 
of the value of their light that they would feel their 
responsibility in using and publishing it. No doubt 
also, that this way of speaking of them, — "Ye are 
the light of the world," —was his generous way of 
estimating those who had even the least share in his 
holiness. He tells them that they are that which it 
was his hope they would be; he sees their hearts as if 
he were looking at the sun under an eclipse, and 


though but one faint ray of light is seen on the edge 
as yet, he hopes, he believes, and as if sees already 
the whole orb cleared and resplendent. His faith in 
his friends and his faith in man are quite as generous 
and characteristic as his faith in God; and this faith, 
like all faith, created the thing it believed. This way 
of treating the human heart is the way of the Bible 
throughout. So Saint Paul often speaks, and our 
liturgy follows in the same spirit. This is also the 
way of God in nature, — namely, to expect and believe 
great things of man, and so to call forth great things, 
which is one of the secrets of his divine education 
which we might imitate in the education of the young. 
But such a hopeful estimate of such men would be 
madness, unless we understood that he rose to such 
an estimate, by seeing in them that element which he 
calls "light." If we seek for the sublime, look at this. 
He selects some half-disgraced or utterly unknown 
characteristics of human nature, — humbleness towards 
self, exaltation of God, — and says that the man who 
is of this sort is of the nature of the sun and will light 
the earth. What a new valuation of the light and 
powers ot the earth ! What a sense of the primacy of 
the spiritual heart among all powers and grandeurs ! 
how unawed by all that is established, — authority, 
thought, might! He just said: "I take this little un- 
gainly seed and plant it here; it will shoot and uproot 
the world. I stir up this blaze in the foundations of the 
soul, I illuminate this dark transparency, and it will 


become an ineffaceable splendor, an attractive magic of 
light to the earth." He said it, and thus it came to 
pass. This sublime estimate of the power of his light 
is become fact. 

But who are the men to whom this light belongs? 
"Ye are." I would make this " ye" as broad as pos- 
sible. The announcement is made to every Christian 
man who has the first line of light in him; nay, to 
every man, so far as he is true to his true humanity, 
so far as that light of honorable instinct which he had 
from his birth still shines in him. Man as such, so 
far as he is man, — that is, so far as he is true to the 
light in himself, — is in some sense Christian, to some 
degree a light in the world. I address all as children 
of the light. 

Except in matters of science, or in the technical 
professions, men, even from their early and crude 
youth, seem to feel that they know already that they 
are lit, and, unlike Paul, are as if they had already 
attained and were already perfect. The word " teach- 
able " describes very few people except young children, 
and hence the Lord finds the image of the kingdom of 
heaven nowhere else but in them. "Simple child- 
hood's ready ear" is what is wanted. To be a pupil 
before you are an authority is a simple rule ; yet who 
sits before man or before God as a pupil.-* Who daily 
sits at the feet of Jesus Christ, the heavenly Teacher 
and Master, to hear what he says, to correct our hearts 
by his heart, as we correct our timepieces by the sun.-* 


No, every man feels that he keeps time like the sun 
himself. Feeling in this way, of course we have no 
conscience about the great duty of reaching truth. 
Perhaps many never made it a matter of conscience in 
this high affair to guard themselves from their pride, 
their distastes, their inclinations, their interests; to 
lay their ear humbly and watchfully to catch that low 
voice which refuses to be heard in the jarrings of our 
passions. If you would ask a man about the duties he 
has neglected, perhaps it would never occur to*him 
that this was one of them ; yet it is the highest of all, 
and the hardest, — to get right ideas, to get at fact 
and truth in religion and life. We are under the won- 
derful mistake that we take in truth as we breathe 
in air. And yet every man of us is covered thick 
with prejudice; prejudice is the fashionable colored 
glass we wear on our eyes, — yes, and place in 
the windows of our churches. Prejudice is like a 
slight cloud in a precious stone, much debasing its 

But suppose we are real searchers for truth, and 
search freed from prejudices and assumptions, how 
shall we reach this light t By mere study t by thought t 
Never. There are natural lights of the heart, divine 
glimpses, whose radiance grows as we live in it, 
enlarging religious light coming out through enlarg- 
ing religious life. We must grow pure in heart, in 
the temper of that high and holy spirit, for in that 
life is the light. 


If SO, what must we think, then, of the unspeakable 
presumption of men, creatures filled with nothing but 
the spirit of the earth, and judging only after their 
eyes, sitting in high judgment upon the affairs of God 
— matters so different that the winds might as well 
give their opinion of the waters; matters so much 
higher that the darkness might as well describe to us 
the day. 

Every one has observed that people usually refuse 
to have any more light when youth is over. It is so 
as to all truth. As every one knows, great discoveries 
and inventions are usually rejected or looked coldly 
on after a man is forty or forty-five. In fact, the set- 
tling and narrowing tendency in man is so great that 
we take occasion from everything — from country, 
party, from our place, our age — to narrow ourselves 
and to refuse any more light, to stand fixed in what is 
reached. It was said by Plato that in his time the 
pictures and statues then made in Egypt were in no 
respect better than they were ten thousand years before, 
and this is quite true now of China, India, and Japan. 
What is this but an exaggeration of the same facts 
which I have been stating as to each of us 1 The early 
and crude ideal becomes fixed and sacred; and religious 
truth above all truth settles and narrows. So that I 
regard humility as to the present, hope and aim for 
the future, a keeping ever open a vista out of all pos- 
sessions into the unpossessed, as the master-thought 
of all who are "the children of the light." Just in 


proportion as we get the heart of Christ will we get 
the eye of Christ, and know all things. 

If ye have the light, spread the light. There are 
two ways in which a man may diffuse the virtue which 
is in him; one is unconsciously, the other consciously 
and of purpose. The first of these is the most effec- 
tive. This happens where a man's convictions are all 
made into his life, so that every one who sees him 
daily sees not abstract and dead truth, but truth in the 
shape of a living soul. The Lord said, " I am the 
truth," and all who, like him, have worked truth into 
their blood and bones may also in their measure say 
"I am the truth." And the sight of this, as it has 
made that life of Jesus Christ the most influential 
thing ever seen on our globe, to which the influence of 
the mightiest is but for a moment, so also with the 
least of those who truly follow him. This it is which 
makes that wonderful power called influence. 

A Christian man, without being solicitous, should 
take some care of his character; he should not let his 
good be evil spoken of, husbanding and cherishing 
himself for the Lord's sake. Those are the worst of 
suicides, who, if they can help it, will suffer others 
to put out a light which their Master has commanded 
to be set on a hill. Our truth should be accommo- 
dated to man as we find him, so far as the demand for 
purity will allow. Paul was all things to all men, that 
he might save some; but in doing this, remember that 
we may smooth religion away into nothing. It is the 


sad fact as to most of the better spirits in history that, 
beginning with high aims, they have gradually and 
finally forfeited them in the necessity of compromise. 

This was not Christ, who came eating and drinking, 
who accommodated his highest truth into children's 
stories, who said, "Ye cannot hear it now, but here- 
after ye shall be led into all truth," and who yet with 
all this sweet graciousness stands uncompromised, the 
pure and express image of all truth. 

I remember there was once a dying man, a pure and 
lofty soul, to which a certain truth, — namely, the 
truth that God is actually near to us, even as " a man 
to his own friend," and communes silently but most 
intimately and always with our souls, that we may 
walk, as Enoch walked, with God, — to this man, I 
say, this great truth had been singled out, and it 
grew upon his mind as a single star emerging from a 
heaven of clouds, and it seemed so exceedingly pre- 
cious and fruitful that his dying words were, " Preach 
it at my funeral, publish it at my burial, that the Lord 
communes positively with man." He wished to use 
even the solemnity of his death to impress his chosen 
truth on the hearts of men. 

Some such chosen truth there is to every heart. 
Let what truth there is in you come forth of you, 
not only by announcing, but in all ways. There are 
many. I shall name three, — the pulpit, the press, 
conversation. Mighty engines, but who works them 
rightly? The pulpit is a noble place, and if every 


man who mounts it had much truth in him, and if his 
object were simply to speak it to the glory of God and 
the benefit of man, the echo of it would soon be heard 
around the world. But alas! how weak is it, partly 
from his fault, partly from the fault of those who hear. 
For the hearer of truth has a vast deal to do with the 
speaker of truth, and too often shapes him like clay in 
the potter's hand. 

The press as a speaker is rising and is risen above 
the pulpit, and he who has any truth to speak would 
do well to take notice of that fact. I once heard a 
powerful but unwise preacher declare from his pulpit 
that the press was to ninety-nine parts out of a hun- 
dred the devil's agent. That is far from the truth, 
though it is on the records of the House of Commons 
that twenty-nine million copies of pernicious books 
were published in one, year in Great Britain. The 
year was 1851. Still it is far from the truth. But yet 
how much of the merely earthly, besides the bad and 
mean, is poured through the press upon the world .!* 
while a mass of honorable, not to speak of Christian 
people, never dream of seizing it and turning it into 
the chosen organ of honor. Knowing it as much as 
we do, we still persist in underrating its power. 
Napoleon, I think it was, said (it is in his manner) 
that he feared three newspapers more than one hun- 
dred thousand bayonets. In view of its power what 
mean those who are the light of the world in standing 
aside from it? If there is anything we can correct, if 


we can abate a bad usage, if we can appeal to a noble 
sentiment, if we can defend the right cause or the 
right man, go to the press in some form and do not 

In England I was much struck with the ease and 
willingness with which educated men went to the 
press to give a simple fact, a correction, an advice, 
and so up to the formal book. There is little fastidi- 
ousness and fear in the use of this great influence. 
With us it is the restless, energetic man, perhaps an 
average man, perhaps a competent one, perhaps a 
weakling, but he it is who freely uses our press, while 
the men of light brood and are silent. 

But if we cannot speak or even think, we have 
money and influence to give. Give it to encourage an 
honorable press, and count every penny spent on that 
as spent effectively in the right direction. Make 
yourself, according to your power, fairly and candidly 
a judge of the good and evil, and act on your judg- 
ment, for, I repeat, the printed page has become the 
edict of the world. 

But, last of all, conversation, private intercourse, 
next to character, is the greatest source of influence 
for most men. The divine gift of speech, ever giv- 
ing out, if T may say so, one spirit to another, how 
is it misused, — not giving even the best of what we 
are, but our poorest and most trifling! How much 
of our conversation is a commerce or exchange of 
trifles; and who, even in soberer interviews, seeks to 


know of the best things and to give the best of what 
he knows? Two things strike one specially in con- 
versation. At one time we sacrifice other people's 
light to our own darkness ; and on the other hand we 
sacrifice, from the same selfishness or from timidity, 
our light to their darkness. I say we sacrifice other 
people's light to our own darkness — that is, we don't 
listen with care to those who deserve such attention. 
If most people once got familiar with the wisest man 
they would prefer their own poor twaddle to anything 
he could say. Or if we do listen, we listen under 
some narrowing prejudice, or with a mind "made up," 
as we say, and so let in just as much light as our own 
darkness will permit, and are like people who keep 
their window-shutters closed in full daylight. And, 
on the other hand, I said we sacrificed our light to 
their darkness. I mean, that because we are cowardly 
or too nicely delicate, we go about the world assent- 
ing and saying, "Yea, yea," when "Nay, nay," and 
with emphasis, would do much better. Indeed we act 
much worse than this. Many a man's best and clear- 
est feelings are overawed and shamed by the powerful 
influence of others, and he yields up, for example, the 
high and pure ideals of his youth to the coarse sneer 
or to the practical wisdom, as it is called, of impor- 
tant people, unconsciously sacrificing his elevation to 
their lowness, the light of heaven to the darkness of 
the world. Yield your opinions if you will ; but your 
sacred sentiments, the life of your life, permit not one 


of these to be touched, for thus it comes that the 
grandest life of the world is sneered away or awed 
down as visionary. 

Last of all, be very courageous in behalf of all that 
is high and against all that is low. Speak the truth 
in love and unshaken firmness. We are here to be 
witnesses for the truth, — that is, to stand for the 
noble and just thing, whatever it be. There are times 
when even the office of condemning is allowed us, — 
of broad, clear, unflinching condemnation. Chris- 
tianity is not without indignations genuine and deep; 
only let us be sure we have the right public heart 
in us. 

"But the manners of good society will not allow 
much of this." Good society would be better society 
if more of this were done. 

There is a cost in all this, I grant it; but all virtue 
is worthless if it has no daring and no sacrifice. 
These things always stand together. " Many shall be 
purified and made white and tried." And is not the 
result worth it.? To scatter the purities of heaven 
upon a dark earth, " to convert the soul from darkness 
to light, from the power of Satan unto God." Not 
counting the cost, then, let us be of the beautiful 
company of the wise, "which shall shine as the bright- 
ness of the firmament," and of them that turn many to 
righteousness, who shall be " as the stars forever and 
ever. " 



Whosoever hath, to him shall be give7i, and he shall have 7nore 
abundance J but whosoever hath not, from hi?n shall be taken 
away even that he hath. — St. Matt, xiii. 12. 

TN the sayings of Christ every one must have re- 
marked the profundity of the matter and the 
simplicity of the form. Many of his statements are 
of such a nature that the humble peasants who heard 
him thought, no doubt, they comprehended the mean- 
ing fully, while, in fact, those very statements have a 
depth in them hitherto unfathomed ; and we must 
wait, I think, for the spiritual life of the race to be 
developed much further yet before their full meaning 
can be caught, much less exhausted. I believe — to 
give one instance — that the teachings of Jesus Christ 
as to the nature of faith, are not reached up to as 
yet by any means. If they were held thoroughly now 
they would be thought fanatical, and they would be 
fanatical unless the whole spiritual condition of the 
race was far advanced beyond what it is. Any reader 
of the New Testament must have observed how much 
our explanations, our comments upon Christ's mean- 
ing, dilute the strength of the original statements. 



Although this is sometimes demanded by the idioms 
of the language he spoke in, and for some other rea- 
sons, still in many other instances I have no doubt 
our interpretations bring down and narrow his mean- 
ings, simply because we cannot rise so high or expand 
our thoughts so wide. I do not know that all have 
observed the extreme boldness of his statements. If 
we did not know who he was we might be tempted to 
think that the bold way in which he scattered from his 
hand the most perilous truths amounted to a sort of 
magnificent rashness, just as to many Nature also 
appears to be thoughtless, rash, in the way in which 
she scatters her rocks, throws up her great mountain- 
ranges, or sinks her valleys. 

The truths of the New Testament are the mighty 
seeds of revolution, not of one revolution nor of a 
thousand, but of endless revolutions to the end of time. 
Yet they are thrown upon the world without system, 
without modification, without compromise, and seem- 
ingly without solicitude. With a sublime confidence 
in truth the great Sower of truth went forth to sow, 
and, unalarmed at results, looked for the harvest 
somewhere, sometime through the great year of God. 

This boldness, too, he exhibited, even where the 
moral aspect of the truth he uttered might seem dark 
or ungratifying. Here we might think — here at least 
— he would be extremely sensitive and most anxious 
to explain and "vindicate the ways of God to man." 
But I cannot say that I see any signs of such anxiety. 


He just stated the great truth or fact, and left it; he 
came not properly as an explainer or expounder or 
defender of truth, but (as he himself said) he came 
simply as the witness of the truth. 

These remarks as to some of the traits of Christ's 
teaching have been suggested by the text. But with- 
out further preface let us proceed to the subject in 
hand, — the statement that "unto every one which 
hath shall be given ; and from him that hath not, even 
that he hath shall be taken away." 

Here is set forth a fact which the rudest man or 
the mere child realizes in his own limited experience, 
and which yet, I think, is one of the most profound 
and comprehensive of all the facts known. Taken in 
its most general sense it is this, — that under God's 
government possession of anything is the pledge of 
its increase, a defect in anything is a pledge of its 

We see the fact through inanimate nature : the 
greater has the tendency to be enlarged, the less to be 
diminished. The great suns of the universe draw into 
their control, and gather, as if into their bosom, the 
lesser worlds; the planets in their turn subordinate 
their moons; and the same thing is true of all matter. 

Rising to organic life, we see the vigorous plant 
gathering life from everything, turning even its 
obstacles to advantages, and drawing away the nour- 
ishment and life from the weaker shoot near it, which, 
on the other hand, the weaker it grows, is exposed at 



every stage of its decrease to more and more mis- 

So among the tribes of animate life. The weak 
give way to the strong ; the puny in health and vigor 
taking evil from everything, while the vigorous gather 
increase. But stop one moment with man and human 
society. In how many ways do we see the operation 
of this great principle.? How wonderfully do superior 
intellect and will and all qualities bear fruit to them- 
selves, while what is inferior loses or perishes ! Social 
power and wealth, — what a marked and rapid ten- 
dency have they to increase by every increase ! Those 
who have the least observation observe at least thus 
much, — that wealth comes to the rich and power to the 
powerful; that man must always struggle to get a 
little of anything, but when he has much he will get 
more, whether he will or no. The rule of nature is, 
gift for gift. That sturdy little band of robbers who 
made their nest at Rome, gradually mastering the 
world, gathered the best valor of all nations into the 
valor of Rome; their best genius, arts, were all named 
Roman, and Rome shone with the glory of the uni- 
verse. In short, the great Donor of creation when he 
gives one gift never makes that, as we do, an argu- 
ment why he should not add to it ; but always, on the 
contrary, when he has once given he is willing to 
increase the gift, and every increase is with him an 
argument for a still more enlarged increase. 

So strikingly is this the case that the great philoso- 


phical naturalist, Mr. Darwin, actually accounts for 
the existence of man, and below him for all the living 
creatures as they now stand, by the gradual triumph 
and ascent of the best and strongest life over the 
inferior, and this not merely as between individuals, 
but as between tribes and races, the whole history of 
living creatures and of all of them, through all incon- 
ceivable ages past, being just this, — 

" That they should take who have the power, 
And they should keep who can," — 

that "unto every one that hath shall be given." 

So far as we have spoken of this fact it presents, I 
acknowledge, a dark side towards us. To account for 
some of the apparent partialities of Nature some of 
the ancients supposed that the present was a state 
of penalty or reward, in which the whole creation was 
recompensed for the evil or good of some former con- 
dition. Brahminism makes the whole living creation, 
from the insect up to the largest animals, one vast 
purgatory, one vast "penitential mechanism," refer- 
ring back to a previous state whose inequalities it is 
intended to correct. But whether we try by this 
strange though grand theory, or by any other, we can- 
not account for it, — that is, it is not according to the 
fashion of our ideas. Let us not quarrel with it, but 
remember two things : First, a great balancing and 
rectifying law in nature, — I mean the law of compen- 
sation; and secondly, that, mysterious as it is, it is 
only a part of the same plan that has conferred on one 


being a limited and abject animal life, and given to 
another a power and glory and continuance like that 
of a god. 

I have now taken the words in the most general 
sense, in which they state a law which actually marks 
the world. The special meaning of the words, how- 
ever, is : He that uses moral light shall have more 
of it, and he who neglects to use what he has shall 
have less. 

Dark, as the fact may be elsewhere, here it 
becomes full of light. Here it means no more than 
this : Unto him who doeth well shall be given an 
increased power of doing well; unto him who doeth 
ill, upon him shall the curse and the power of ill be 
increased. Here in the region of the will a man's 
havings are his doings. 

In whatever else, then, the God of Nature may 
appear to be partial, we see on the top or crown 
of the creation the moral soul, to which all else is 
subordinated, — that there he vindicates himself, and 
shows clearly, whatever blind Nature says to the con- 
trary, that it is his wish to render to every creature, 
not according to the gifts with which he is born, but 
according to the use he makes of them. 

The particular application is as to hearing the truth. 
He says to those listening to him, as the preacher 
might always say to those before him, "Whosoever 
has a hold on what he hears, shall have more; but he 
who hears and lets truth float in and out of his 


mind, without laying hold upon it, from him shall be 
taken that which he had ; " or, as Saint Luke more cor- 
rectly reports the words, "from him shall be taken 
even that which he seemeth to have." 

Most of our truth lies upon the surface of the mind, 
as the seed sown by the wayside, — that is, on the 
hard, baked highways. It rattles as it falls, and the 
fowls of the air come and devour it up. The soil does 
not open to receive it, and so it bears no fruit. 

But of course this is true of all our moral acts, and 
not of hearing truth only. 

Glance at that old lower fact in our nature which is 
called habit; it is one of the greatest and most curious 
facts in the constitution of man. What is W. We 
find that whatever we have felt or done once is felt or 
done with a greater facility the second time, and that 
by every repetition an increase of the facility takes 
place on to an indefinite degree, — in other words, 
there is an increase of power to do anything by having 
once done it. How it is that there is thus an increase 
of power, we can by no means understand. For aught 
we can see it might just as well have been the con- 
trary. We can go no deeper than the simple fact that 
God has made our natures so. 

We can see something of the way in which it oper- 
ates. Let us then see how, through the operation of 
what is called habit, or the law of God in our hearts, 
abundant increase is given to him that hath, while 
from him that hath not is taken away even that which 


he seemed to have. As has been said, we find the 
repetition of an act, or indeed the experience of it but 
once, to give a susceptibility to the recurrence of the 
same. If in one case we have given way to the se- 
ductions of evil in act or thought, and have hardened 
and braced ourselves against the checks of conscience, 
this once done has begun in us a dire facility which 
increases with every step we advance. 

Now this strange facility is brought about, not 
merely through the will, but through every one of the 
faculties of our spirits, through the intellect, taste, 
imagination, etc. 

As to the increase of the thoughts of evil. Once 
accustom the mind to any set of thoughts, good or 
bad, and those thoughts gradually become associated 
or connected with all the other objects of our thoughts, 
so that any thought or any object whatever can call up 
good or evil to our view. The thoughts of evil by 
repetition become inwoven or associated with the 
whole mass of our thoughts, until every object on 
which the mind can rest will serve to call up ideas 
of malice, or envy, or impurity, or selfishness, and so 
color and corrupt, if I may so express it, the whole 
mental scenery of the soul. Like a flash of electricity 
the mind passes from the most various and distant 
points back to the one favorite spot. You must have 
seen this exemplified in instances where men have had 
some pet idea or project. In such cases almost every 
thought in the whole range of the mental vision comes 


to minister as a handmaid to this one. In this sense, 
then, in what abundance are thoughts of evil given to 
him who hath evil? And this result takes place very 
speedily, too. No single thought passes into the 
mind alone, — "they come not single spies, but in 
battalions," — it goes always in company; and every 
time it comes in again it comes in fresh company, and 
forms a wider association with our thoughts. And 
not only this, but just in proportion as the idea is a 
vivid one, just in proportion to the vividness of the 
impression, or its excitement, will be the ease with 
which it establishes a vital connection with the other 
thoughts, just as bars of iron at a white heat can be 
welded into one. So that easily is this thing begun, 
rapidly and effectually does it go on, until in time the 
man who has indulged in habitual iniquity has settled 
the remembrance of sin as a centre to the widest cir- 
cumference of his ideas ; sin has penetrated and passed 
through the whole body of his knowledge, and the 
mystery and power of darkness is shed through and 
settled in every region of his consciousness. Porten- 
tous indeed is such a spectacle; for the soul of the 
man seems then to be caught as in an inextricable 
web of sorceries. How can he think good when evil 
is still present with him ? The whole universe is 
turned to him in one fatal aspect of temptation and 
guilt; the Lord must deliver him by a new power, for 
he cannot help himself. 

As the growth of death so is the growth of life, — 


from strength to strength. To him that hath either 
of them, that is, comes by use into a real hold upon 
either, the increase is abundant, either to the right 
hand or to the left. 

Now nowhere do I hear the voice of God — no- 
where, not even in his sacred word — spoken with more 
startling effect. It looks as if the Divine Being were 
actually present in our souls, dealing out now, every 
day and hour, to evil and good, the full recompense 
of their reward. What says he to us by the action of 
this great law in our hearts.? Many things. He 
says: "Avoid the beginnings of evil, for, evil once in 
progress, thou knowest not whereunto it may grow. 
In general, alterations for the better are much to be 
misdoubted. So, also cherish the first startings of 
good, for soon thou shalt have, and have abundantly. 
Labor as if for your soul to possess, to have some little 
capital of good, and its revenue shall be more than 
the revenue of silver and its increase than of choice 
gold; and labor no less to break down and sweep 
clean out the startings or germs of evil, and that fatal 
harvest shall never grow." The least effort at the 
beginnings of things is worth the greatest when they 
have somewhat advanced. 

God says, also, that he regards good with such love, 
and him who seeks to do right with such favor, that 
he will not only reward him, but heap rewards; and 
that evil is so hateful, sin so sinful, that he thinks it 
just to treat it with a severity, to recompense it with 


a fulness that, if we did not see it actually before our 
eyes, would seem incredible. 

People doubt as to any such thing as future rewards 
and punishments; but there is enough here, I think, 
to make a sober man more sober. I see, at least, that 
there are present rewards and punishments; I see 
them, too, not casual, but systematic ; not transient, 
but carried steadily on until man disappears from our 
sight. Nay, I see that rewards and punishments are 
not so much things given to me, laid upon me, as that 
they grow out of me; I see the necessity of them laid 
in the very foundations of my nature, and that I must 
change the nature before I change the facts of rewards 
and punishments; I see that man may be described as 
a self-punishing and self-rewarding being, — nay, that 
this is so regular that he may almost be described as 
a self-punishing and self-rewarding machine. What 
need have we to discuss the existence of rewards and 
penalties future and unseen.'' The present teaches 
me enough of the future. I know enough of the world 
beyond, if we but continue the same economy and 
carry forward the same souls into it. 

Here in the heart, then, I say, is a world of reality 
to which all heights of heaven or opposite depths are 
but as shadows. What need we think of external 
blessmg or bane.? Here within, in the laws of my 
own soul, in the great fact which my Lord and 
Teacher has taught me, — here is that which I con- 
template with unspeakable awe. I find nothing so 


justly to be apprehended as the operation of law. 
The dreadful names of Orcus or Hades or Hell itself, 
if they speak of something outside of me, alarm me 
not like this quiet, deep terror within me. 

*' All outward strength and terror, single or in bands, 
That ever was shown forth, — 
I pass them unalarmed. Not Chaos, not 
The darkest pit of lowest Erebus, 

Can breed such fear and awe 
As fall upon my heart whene'er I look " — 


" Within the soul of man." 

"Whosoever hath to him shall be given, and he 
shall have more abundance; but whosoever hath not, 
from him shall be taken away even that he hath." 
In that statement I see written the history of spirits 
wherever they be, here or elsewhere, in time and in 

These are the thoughts of the subject. If I were 
addressing entirely the young, I would stop here; but 
most of those I address are beings of formed habits, 
and many of those bad. This is a very melancholy 
subject, but I do not mean to close it so. Bound in 
irons as we may be, spirits in prison, I preach to 
you the Deliverer, who gives liberty to the captive, 
the opening of the prison, the breaking of every bond. 
The new law — "the law of the spirit of life in Christ 
Jesus " — shall make you " free from the law of sin and 
death." Nature can do nothing or little. A man 


may seem in chains and under darkness, reserved to 
judgment; but, once touched and constrained by the 
love of Christ, the old man becomes new, the fixed 
and fettered soul born again and like a little child. 

Bring, then, your enslaved spirit here, burdened, 
careworn, and, as in a moment, trusting, affectionately 
confiding, all burdens will fall off, and you will rise 
up free, forgiven, purified, and mount up with wings 
as eagles. 



And he said unto them that stood by. Take from him the pound. — 

St. Luke xix. 24. 
Take therefore the talent from him. — St. Matt. xxv. 28. 

'np'HE Scriptures have a peculiar way of speaking 
-^ of God and his doings. What we call a law, 
they call a person ; what we conceive as gradual, they 
speak of as done at once. This, though the more 
childlike, is the real and high view, and like the deep 
and wide glance of an angelic spirit. 

To the eye of any one who could see behind all the 
machinery and springs of the world, there could be 
no notice taken of any causes but God; and to an eye 
to which "a thousand years are as one day," the delu- 
sion of gradualness, if I may so express it, would dis- 
appear, and the judgments of God would seem to 
follow at once upon offence. 

So Christ saw. The world to him was actually his 
Father's house, and all going on there transacted by 
the head of the house, and second causes, as we call 
them (which are really but local habitations of the 
divine power, starting-points behind which it lies 
concealed, hiding-places of his power, a cloud be- 


tween us and the real power), were as if swept away 
from before him, and he saw nothing but the face of 
God's throne. To him also that gradualness, that 
slow time, which to us hides his judgments or destroys 
their impression, was as if forgotten by an eye that 
saw through and on to the end. So there is absolute 
truth in what he says, for he looked at things as God 
sees them, and as we ourselves will see them v/hen we 
shall have mastered the delusions which the element 
of time and the thick clay of the world have raised up 
between us and a true view of fact. 

In this modern scientific age we all of us have been 
put to the great spiritual disadvantage of a special 
familiarity with Nature. To know how things, — 
events in our lives and business, etc., — come about, 
and what results will take place, occupies us. Our 
whole intellectual life is in judging and looking at 
processes and causes and results in man and society 
and the earth ; and so we not only naturally forget the 
One, but by a natural instinct this very earth, myself, 
other men, come to seem to have the power in them- 
selves; and so, although we have gained Nature, we 
have lost God. We have come into such a state of 
mind that the Bible could not be written now and 
here, no matter how great the force of inspiration, 
unless man were changed or entirely superseded. 

Of course, we think ours is the true mode of think- 
ing and call the Bible way the religious imagination. 
It is the religious imagination if we mean a special 


organ of truth inspired into us, but it is just the con- 
trary if we mean fiction. The Bible says "God," we 
say "man:" the Bible realizes his judgments and 
forgets time; we are so beclouded by time and slow- 
ness and confused events, as to forget his judgments. 
Which is the true? The value of this book, then, in 
its simple, real ways of seeing things, though great to 
all men, is greatest to a scientific eye or an age intel- 
lectually busy. We should, therefore, in religion, 
habitually exchange our way of seeing and speaking 
of a fact for God's way. 

The word "talent" or "pound" has no religious 
origin, as it means a weight in the scales, hence any- 
thing of weight in the scales of life, — that is anything 
valuable. But though the word sprang from the 
market-place, yet the talent is so spoken of as to 
make it something given or taken away by a master. 
So, elsewhere in the Bible, the whole of this is ex- 
pressed by simply changing the word "talents" into 
"gifts," "graces," "trusts" (that is, favors), — that 
is, some act of a person. Now we call such things 
"possessions," "qualities," "abilities," something 
which has no reference to a giver or a master; and 
though our language has many words formed or once 
used to convey the Bible thought, yet while we have 
the words still the meaning cannot be kept up, because 
we think differently. For example, we still use the 
old language, "gifts," "endowments," "graces;" the 
words belong to us still, but they never express more 


than just the thing possessed, not whence it came, or 
who gave it. When our fellows confer a kindly token 
on us we call it with distinct meaning a gift or a pres- 
ent, for we know that to speak of it merely as a jewel 
or a book would give us an idea of the thing, but not 
of the best part of the thing ; namely, whence it 
came and why, — the love and the meaning which 
made it unspeakably more than a jewel. Now lan- 
guage is a vital affair; its words and forms not only 
indicate a state of opinion and feeling, and not only 
do their changes indicate the history of feeling, but 
the language of a people reacts back upon their char- 
acter, and forms it most powerfully. 

I say, then, it would be our greatest gain if we 
could habitually exchange not only our ways of think- 
ing but the meaning of our words and the form of 
speech, and bring them back to the simple and reli- 
gious and only real Bible way. But, on the other 
hand, in an age so unbelieving or at least so unrealiz- 
ing as this, it is a great advantage to reverse the pro- 
cess, and to find the meaning or substance of Scriptural 
statement in our very bosoms, in what I find going on 
in me and around me. I mean this: Thousands of 
men who will pass over Bible language without inter- 
est and but small belief, when they find it to be but a 
statement in its simple forms of what they would call 
the great laws of life, will listen. And all of us, if 
we can see those doings of God which the Bible 
speaks of, and which after all seem far off, strange, 


114 ^^^E AND DISUSE. 

unlike the things of our experience ; if we find the 
hidden meaning of these Bible statements going on 
here, now, moving in us; if we can see the very God 
of the Bible pass by in the world of things we do 
know and which we are sure of and pride ourselves 
upon; if we can hear the decree spoken in our lan- 
guage; if, in short, we can find these laws of life, facts 
of experience which are the gods of the modern mind, — 
if we can hear them speak of the Bible God, we are 
awed, and we recognize Jehovah as a reality, and 
religion as a thing of to-day, a fact of life, and we 
bend the knee. 

Our talents are not viewed in the text as merely 
possessions, or even as gifts; our talents are not pos- 
sessions, but trusts. The feeling that we are our own 
is just atheism of the heart; it is in fact not merely 
atheism, but even a worse thing, — a sort of substitu- 
tion of one's self for God. Every man who does not 
look away from himself, who practically feels no refer- 
ence to a higher, who has no feeling as to himself but 
that he is himself, and no feeling as to the good 
things he has but that they are his, is not only "with- 
out God in the world," but is taking for granted that 
he stands on his own foundation. Now, to stand on 
his own foundation, to have life in himself, is the 
incommunicable glory of Jehovah, who alone has life 
in himself. The acknowledgment, the deep feeling 
that there is one only Source and Giver, and that I am 
all his gift, that, while it is the humblest and sweet- 


est, is the most becoming and noblest feeling of man as 
a creature conscious of his creaturehood ; and in pro- 
portion as this is felt, as it makes him in his con- 
sciousness of himself more conscious of God, more 
conscious of the bosom on which he rests, so it makes 
him more receptive of God, and he becomes not only 
aware of God, as if face to face, and not only receiving 
consciously of his fulness, but a creature who, though 
a creature, is such as takes, shall I say consciously 
drinks, its life out of the river of God, and so through 
conscious, loving reception it partakes of the divine 
nature. It is a vast thing, then, to become aware that 
this body, soul, mind, and all which I am heir to, have 
come down and are coming down from above from the 
Father of lights. 

But what talent is referred to.? All, but specially 
of course the highest, our religious endowments. We 
are splendidly furnished through all the regions of a 
complex and wonderful nature, body, soul, and spirit ; 
but if a talent be something of weight in the scales, 
something of moment in our nature, then the talent 
for religion is, of course, the incomparable talent of 
man, the talent which he shares with angels ; and it is 
of that I shall speak. But what is the talent for reli- 
gion.'' It is that in us which first knows, loves, and 
gives us up to what is good, specially a good being; it 
is the ascending talent of the moral heart. The reli- 
gious talent is, first, the moral heart; then an endless 
ascension in knowing, obeying, loving, and receiving 


God; and the instinct and want of knowing him 
better, which leads the race up from a god of 
sense to the Invisible One, from a being weak 
and inferior to the All-Holy, All-Powerful, — which 
leads and will lead the race from a fear of him, 
from an interested service, to a seraphic love and 

It is sufficient to say that the religious affections 
and will are the religious talent of man. Now the 
statement of the Bible as to it is, that though it is the 
link which connects us with God, a mere disuse will 
destroy it, and that it shares this treatment with the 
meanest gifts of our nature. Every one knows that 
the health and the development of everything depends 
on its use. Each organ of the body is well and strong 
only if it has its proper use, otherwise it shrinks or is 
diseased; and this is one of those laws which seems, 
if I may so express it, a favorite idea of the Creator, 
and extends everywhere through the bodies and spirits 
of men. Fishes and certain other creatures found in 
the waters of deep and sunless caverns (Sir H. Davy 
found some of them in a lake in Italy) become eyeless, 
and in moles and ferrets the organ is shrunk and gives 
but a glimmer. It is the same if we disuse a muscle 
of the arm, or disuse our memory, or reasoning, or feel- 
ing; everything goes that is not employed. This law 
seems a universal and stern reprehension of neglect, 
and a universal instigation to action and to an apprecia- 
tion of the things given. "Take, therefore, the talent 


from him" sounds solemnly all through Nature. " Cut 
it down ; why cumbereth it the ground ? " Live or 
rot! And it is very serious to reflect how equally and 
unflinchingly this is carried out in respect to the 
awful gift of our religious nature. Consider its 
results. Look at the young. See what a keen and 
living moral sensibility, what a fine touch the young 
have sometimes; then take the very same moral sense 
at fifty or sixty years, and see how it has lost most of 
its quick; and how.? Chiefly by disuse. With most 
people the faculty of religion is left to perish while 
still only in germ, a mere possibility of the heart, the 
seed rotting under the clods. And so it is, not only 
with what I have called moral sensibility, but with 
the will, with what I may call yielding to the good in 
firm adherence, — namely, obedience to good rules ; the 
action, I repeat, of the will. As, in the former case, 
the sensibility, what I may call the touch of the heart, 
dies, so here the energy of the will dies. What brace 
and nervous power of the soul comes out in every 
vigorous doing of what I ought to do ! what feebleness 
and crumbling of the will where I am accustomed to 
yield and melt to my inclinations! Everybody knows 

And so I say as to all the blessed image of God in 
us, when we look round at the mature and aged and 
see what they were made for and what they are, when 
we raise our thoughts to their possibilities, — ''sons of 
the morning," — and see what they have actually come 


to, it seems as if the splendid flame had turned into 
the soot of the chimney. 

There can be no bare disuse of our talents, but at 
the same time there is an increased use of something 
else, and a different part of our nature comes in and 
takes the place of the other. If you do not see to it 
that the life of the grape-vine goes to the grape, it 
will go to wood merely. The soul is like a fair room, 
whose nature it is to be furnished, and the only choice 
left to us is, what sort of furniture? I may carve it 
like a temple and fill it with statues of angels, but if 
I do not do that, a crowd of statues of devils will spring 
up from the floor and take their place. This is an- 
other of the great laws found everywhere. Begin 
down among the animals. Bring the dog into the 
company of a higher being, — man, who is a sort of 
god to the lower nature, — and he will become almost 
human, almost human qualities will spring out of him; 
but leave him prowling in the woods and he is just a 
wolf, — that is, only the dark side of his nature lives 
in the shape of mere appetites and ferocities. As you 
can raise a dog almost to the society of men, so by a 
contrary process, if a man, who by the favorable force 
of his situation usually finds his humanity solicited and 
drawn out, — is usually necessitated to use his head 
and heart; if he, on the contrary, has only his lower 
nature appealed to, if he is socially sunk, like the 
field-laborer in Europe, or like the English operatives 
in manufactories, or if, taking an extreme case, he is 


left like the more solitary and debased savages, alone 
in the woods, struggling to live, depending on his 
senses and instincts only, you can reduce him thus 
to become a cunning animal by the loss of all his 

And the same law of disuse on the one hand and 
use on the other, in calling out and fixing a certain 
character at the expense of the nature, is seen in the 
astonishing fact of partial cultivation in civilized 
societies or individuals. Whole races for thousands 
of years, not merely told of in our histories but living 
before us at this moment, have expended themselves 
with astonishing effect in doing a certain set of things, 
in feeling a certain set of feelings, in thinking a certain 
set of thoughts, while they seem to lose all capacity 
and idea for anything outside of that. Think of the 
Chinese, for example; in less degree, the Japanese; in 
still less, the Hindoo. Being heirs to the whole 
palace of humanity, they live crowding in some of its 
outhouses, as I have seen a family of miserable beings 
living in a cell in one of the mighty ruins of a feudal 
castle. And, in truth, the same fact of one-sided or 
small-sided development, the same fact of crushing 
out the most valuable by the diseased expansion of 
what was least valuable, has marked most of the civili- 
zation of the earth. 

This is a scientific age, and exhibits the phenome- 
non of many individuals growing merely into head, — 
that is, the exclusive action of one talent disusing and 


finally destroying all other parts of the soul as an 
organ of truth. Yet pure ignorance of this simple 
fact — that this is a one-sided development, and that 
our whole nature is the only just instrument of spirit- 
ual truth — gives an authority to scientific men as judges 
of spiritual truth which is quite unwarranted. People, 
for example, speak of the intelligence of sceptics or of 
the disbelievers in some great point of spiritual truth, 
and it shakes them. Why, they might just as well 
take the opinion as to Nature of a man who had his 
eye and ear seared out, because, forsooth, he had an 
excellent touch. The man of mere understanding is 
in the very lowest rank of authority in such matters. 
If the Scriptures speak contemptuously of anything it 
is of the "wisdom of the wise," of the "scribes and dis- 
puters of this world." What sort of persons do they 
mean to rebuke.^ Just such as these. Their divine 
contempt is poured upon all who overrate or exaggerate 
mere thought, when the great ideas and feelings of 
religion are left out, and specially upon those who do 
this, being puffed up with a vain conceit of wisdom. 
He that sitteth on the circle of the heavens shall 
laugh them to scorn.' 

Some who fritter away their religious capacities, 
nevertheless go on expecting that they may become 
religious, as they express it, any day. I know there 
are merciful flashes sometimes sent into the deepest 
darkness, but this is rare, and it is rarer still that this 
flash turns into a fixed irradiation. 


You may have seen an imprisoned eagle, old and 
worn and tamed, quite out of his eagle nature, but 

" When his plumes 
The sea-blast ruffles as the storm comes on, 
In spirit for a moment he resumes 
His rank 'mong free-born creatures that live free, 
His power, his beauty, and his majesty." 

It is, however, but for a moment, and he shrinks 
down in his prison and folds his broken wings, and 
the dull, poor film covers his fine eye. And it is but 
for a moment that the degraded and enslaved eagle, 
man, dead through years in all his better life and 
alive through years only in mean and wicked pro- 
pensities, — it is but as a sad and rapid flare that he 
resumes his lost and violated soul ; it is, alas ! but the 
upflaring of the expiring light. 

Yet, sad to say, these momentary revivings con- 
stantly delude us as to the practical possibilities of our 
case. We spend our lives in emptying out the right 
and taking in the wrong; we educate ourselves out of 
life and into death by a busy education, which lasts 
every day and all day, and we allow ourselves in all 
this because we have the silly hope which some 
transitory flashes keep up in us, that when moulded 
and rigid as a statue in iron some miracle far more 
transcendent than raising the dead will recast us. O 
fatal delusion! We know not that a dreadful law is 
upon us, and that we are bound in its chains in 


If all this be so we need a special conscience formed 
against neglect ; a sacred dread, not of guilt only, but 
of the lapse and sliding of our nature ; an unspeakable 
fear, founded upon this fact, that the Creator through 
Nature destroys neglected gifts, and that even the 
Redeemer, whose mission is benignity, brings no 
relief to this fact, but announces in the text that the 
reprehension with which the Father of lights removes 
every candle from his place that will not burn becomes 
an unspeakably greater reprehension where there is 
neglect as to the powers of the soul, so great that the 
power for immortal life is itself withdrawn when 
unused. This is God's estimate of the guilt of 
neglect. "Because thou didst it not." In this par- 
able of the talents there is no fault found with any- 
thing else. 

Oh, then, that the almightiness of God would come 
forth, at any cost to us, to make us sensible to these 
facts ! The world deludes us, and we delude each 
other; we are the mere creatures of each other's 
opinions. Because the soul is not thought much of 
in the streets, I do not think much of it. We lose 
our immortality chiefly because other people have 
thought so little of theirs. If this talent is the 
immortal part of us, the organ of eternity, and if it is 
subject to the law of perishing by disuse, why not 
either reject the fact that I am immortal and lie down 
with the beasts, or else, in defiance of the fatal folly 
of a foolish world, awake, and through the power of 


the Holy and Eternal Spirit begin to live in the 
immortal part of me ? 

But one word as to the future. The Scriptures have 
a doctrine of the future as to such spirits as have gone 
in the wrong direction which we all shrink from. We 
will suppose, then, there are no Scriptures. What 
are the probabilities of the case from what we see.^ 
Judging from what we see, if man is just to be con- 
tinued after death, and the idea of punishment put 
aside, if you will, entirely, the conclusion certainly 
would be that he steps into that next state either 
entirely unfurnished of higher powers, — the eye of the 
soul as effectually out as the eye of the fish in the 
cave — or those powers are materially impaired, so that 
he must either go into a lower rank of being, or if he 
goes into a higher and spiritual world he goes with a 
nature unfitted for that world. Unworthy of eternal 
life; "take, therefore, the talent from him." 


// is sown a natural body — it is raised a spiritual body. — i CoR. 
XV. 44, first clause. 

'' I ^HE most interesting thought for man is this: 
-^ "I shall live hereafter." "When these scenes 
are past there shall be new scenes, and I — I shall 
live in the midst of them, /shall be there thinking, 
and feeling, and acting." And if this be true there 
is not anything more important than that we should 
see it clearly and assure ourselves of it. Reflecting 
men in all places and from the beginning of the world 
have anxiously sought for light here; but very much 
in vain. They could get no certainty. The human 
heart is full of instincts, indeed, and hopes, which 
point to Immortality; the reason also can produce 
many probabilities for it, but still there are painful 
appearances against it. The spirit, for instance, often 
seems to be impaired or lost with the changes of the 
body, and at death it seems to sink away and go out, 
as a flame when the oil is spent. And when we stand 
over the awful ruins of the body, dreadful suspicions 
will come that all now is over, — that this is the end. 
If, too, a man glances his eye over the vast genera- 


tions of men, which appear as the leaves in spring and 
depart as the leaves in autumn, it looks as if the 
human creatures were in mournful fellowship with 
everything about them, — that the same law of birth 
and destruction governed all. In accordance with this, 
we can see that in the best thinkers of antiquity, after 
they have drawn out their finest and most eloquent 
pleas for immortality, earnest and anxious for such 
noble hopes, there still lurks a secret and gloomy dis- 
trust. Indeed the subject does not admit of such 
proof as human nature demands. Every competent 
thinker, if he be candid, will tell us this. There is 
not, perhaps, an argument which the wit of man can 
devise to the end of time, which was not used long 
ago among the heathen philosophers. Some one was 
boasting before Dr. Johnson of the great proof there 
was for the Immortality of the Soul. He replied, *' I 
wish it were greater." However strong proofs any 
one may bring, there is still a painful, distressing un- 
certainty left. And what matter is this for a man to 
be uncertain about? Uncertain whether he shall lie 
down with the brutes and rise not, or shall outlive the 
stars and be clothed forever with life, and joy, and 
unspeakable honor; uncertain whether his being may 
not perish by the pettiest accident, or whether it be 
indestructible and shall live, and must live though the 
universe perish from centre to circumference. That 
is an uncertainty indeed ; and when we contemplate it 
we may know how to thank God aright that he has 


taught US, and has brought, without doubt, "life and 
immortality to light by the Gospel." If, indeed, he 
had taught us nothing else, — if his revelation con- 
sisted simply of this one word "immortality," and of 
the sentence, "Man shall live forever" — that itself, 
I think, would have been a Gospel worthy of God. 
But it is not barely and barrenly announced; the New 
Testament is full of it. I do not mean that it is 
always asserting it, but if we look through it we shall 
see that this present life is diminished, is made 
nothing, — that everything points forward, that the 
future is all. Time and the world appear there but 
as the scene for doing a certain task ; the apostles 
and early Christians seem as workmen doing a day's 
labor, and looking eagerly for the setting of the sun, — 
the great, real unshaken future was their all; they 
lived, "looking for and hastening unto it." 

But the Gospel has not only thus made immortality 
a reality to us, but it has also shown us in an important 
degree its nature. It may seem strange that I should 
assert this. It is generally supposed that Christianity, 
while it has revealed clearly the fact, has told us very 
little of the nature of the future; but in my judgment 
it has taught us much more than is supposed. We 
know, or may know, something of what heaven is ; and 
it is my purpose to show this. In doing so I shall 
take just a single fact which it has given us, — the 
fact that there shall be a resurrection of the body — 
and shall attempt to show that this alone contains 


much information as to our future state. The Church 
celebrates the amazing fact of the rising of the body 
of Christ. "Sown a natural body, raised a spiritual 
body; " this body retained and yet made immortal and 
incorruptible, — that is the fact which, I think, is so 
full of meaning. Two things — a body, and the same 

There is to be a body, — that is, we are not to be 
mere spirits, doing nothing but feeling and thinking 
as spirits. We are to have a lower nature also, pos- 
sessing its own faculties and enjoyments, — a nature 
corresponding to the higher nature, like as our bodies 
now correspond to our souls. I do not say that the 
fact that we are to have a lower nature implies of 
necessity that it will be a body in the sense in which 
most people think of a body. It may not have any- 
thing like the personality, size, or shape, or powers of 
the present body; but one thing we may rest on, — 
that we are to have a lower nature, and one that con- 
verses with external objects, for that is the essential 
idea of a body as contrasted with a spirit. We are, 
then, of course, if we are to have such a body, to have 
a state of being suited to it; we are to have a world 
as our home, adapted to the new bodies. A real world 
this is to be, and entirely distinguishable (though not 
distinct) from that world of truth and holiness with 
which our spirits will commune. This much is as 
certain as that we are to live hereafter at all; yet 
there are few persons who seem to know it. Heaven 


is thought of by many merely as a sort of spiritual 
vision in the presence of God; our future nature is 
reduced to a sort of mystical act of contemplation. 
Such a notion is false and injurious. We are to stand 
embodied in some species of external world, and what- 
ever it may be, as real and solid as this. "We look 
for a new heavens and a new earth." The Scriptures 
give us not only the fact that there is a body, but that 
in some sense or other it is to be the same body in 
which we now are. This is something well worth our 
notice. What is it for a body to be the same.' It is 
not that the same particles of matter continue, for we 
all know that the whole substance of the body changes 
every few years, and yet the identical body is left. 
The same matter, then, is not necessary : but this at 
least it must be, — that the faculties and figure of the 
resurrection body be like our present bodies; that in 
its powers it remain similar ; and that in its appear- 
ance it remain similar, so that it be capable of being 
clearly known and recognized. I state the matter at 
its very lowest. If the body is to be the same in any 
sense, it must be in this sense. If we deny this we 
deny the resurrection of the same body altogether. 
The nature of the world which every being inhabits 
must be adapted to its faculties; and as our faculties 
there arc to be similar to those we now have, it neces- 
sarily follows that there will be a similarity between 
the world to come and the present. Our great epic 
poet represents that this world in several particulars 


is a sort of gross copy of a higher, and says in one 
place, — 

*' What if earth be but a shadow of Heaven ? " 

This fine imagination, so comprehensively stated, 
seems to me sober reality, — an undeniable teaching of 
the Word of God. What a range of conjecture is here 
opened, in that simple fact, that there is to be some 
essential resemblance between earth and heaven, be- 
tween man now and man hereafter. 

So far, then, we have certainty ; and now that God 
has taught us the fact, we can see good reasons why it 
should be so, — we can see, for instance, that important 
moral purposes may be answered by such a plan. We 
know that the next state, as a state of reward or pun- 
ishment, is to refer to this as the ground of every- 
thing found there. Whence it might be asked, in 
eternity, "Whence are there such rewards to this 
immortal being.? whence are there such penalties to 
that.? It is the present scene, the present body, the 
present soul which are to explain and justify all that 
will be met with there. There is, then, a sort of 
necessity for carrying the present forward. In pro- 
portion as we would make a state of moral reward or 
punishment more complete, we must make the whole 
circumstances of the past sin, or the past righteous- 
ness, more vivid. By God's plan of reproducing in a 
higher form the same body, and to some extent, as is 
probable, a likeness to this earthly scene, the present 



may be carried forward in a wonderful way, with all 
its remembrances and associations, into the future, 
and thus vividly explain and exhibit, at the most dis- 
tant point of time, God's government and the actions 
of his creatures through the whole past range of their 

Other reasons for the same thing might be pre- 
sented. Take one other. It seems especially im- 
portant to the interests of the universe itself that 
the identity of the human race should be preserved. 
Among us, it would seem, has been done something, — 
the most mysterious, largest, and most divine of all 
transactions since the birth of the ages; something 
which the angels (the most ancient and highest order 
of creatures) desire to look into. "In a man's form 
appeared that one whose goings forth have been from 
everlasting." In this figure he lived on this earth, 
exhibiting the holiness and love of the invisible God, 
as perhaps it has never been seen elsewhere in any 
scene, in any shape, in any time. Now, to preserve 
and to give the utmost impressiveness to the memory 
of all this, is an object worthy of God. So we find 
that in this form Christ passed into the heavens, to 
remain as a man amidst those awful shapes of loveli- 
ness and power; to remain a man, that with inexpres- 
sible significance he might exhibit through eternity 
that earthly history of the glory of his humility! Now 
we find that as he is, so shall his redeemed be. It is 
promised that when he shall appear we shall be like 


him. Wherever appears in any region that peculiar 
human form, there the whole history of the earth and 
its Saviour would be felt at once. And then what 
nobler monument can we imagine built to the honor 
of the creating and redeeming God, than a race thus 
kept peculiar in its characteristics of body as well as 
spirit, and standing with all its wonderful memories 
and lessons full before the eye of all intelligences? 
So that wherever one human form shall appear, with 
the lustre of the redemption, it shall flash the whole 
wonderful story, and the Redeemer, as Saint Paul 
says, "shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to 
be admired in all them that believe." 

But dismissing all such reasons, it is clear enough 
that whatever God's purposes are, there is to be a like- 
ness between what we now are and what we shall be 

It seems, then, to be a probability that we shall be 
clearly recognized in that world ; this we may infer 
from the fact that our bodies are to have a sameness 
of look and character. It is conceivable that we 
might remain the same and yet have quite forgotten 
each other and all the past; but if our faculties 
remain, and if they are strengthened, we could not 
forget. And then, the whole of the purposes of a 
resurrection require a recognition, so that we might 
state it as certain that we shall stand before each 
other as intimately known as at this moment. An- 
other probability is, that there may be a far more near 


and startling likeness between us now and then than 
we suppose. A general or vague similitude does not 
seem to fill out the meaning of the expression "the 
same body." I think a just interpretation of this 
would be that in everything not inconsistent with the 
idea of a vastly superior refinement and elevation, we 
are to be not m.erely like, but so definitely so as to be 
the same. The impression left on me from what the 
apostle says is this, — that the next state, while it is 
to be a beginning anew, is yet not an abrupt begin- 
ning but a gradual advance from this. God in all his 
works, so far as we know them, forms a regular 
gradation between his creatures, every species stand- 
ing a step in advance of some other. It is highly 
probable that he takes that method in respect to the 
advance of the same creature; every stage of its ascent 
being not at too abrupt a remove from the former. 
Christians adopt this view in respect to a man's spirit; 
they say "it advances gradually in its ascent." Why 
may not the same be true of our bodies, and of the 
external state in which we are to live.^ There is just 
as much proof of the one as of the other. Where did 
we get our idea of the gradual advance of our spirits? 

I hold, then, that on the same authority and the 
same proof we should conclude that our state there in 
all particulars may be closely linked to our state here. 
We must see, then, around us, in this our present 
home, the germs and normal forms which we shall see 
enlarged hereafter. And in our own nature we are 


no doubt conscious now of many acts and movements 
similar to those which shall mark us hereafter, — just 
as the bird makes with its wings the motion by which 
it flies and soars, before it has yet its feathers. 

Again. If there be such nearness between the two 
states, we may suppose that most, at least, of what is 
excellent in the present will be retained. When God 
makes a creature of a superior rank, he always, so far 
as our observation goes, carries up the main perfec- 
tions of the lower rank into the higher. I believe, 
therefore, that much of what is valuable now will be 
preserved; I believe, for instance, that the skill we 
have acquired in the use of our bodily and mental 
powers will not be lost. As there will be similar 
senses it will give occasion for the exercise of much 
the same skill; much less will there be any faculty 
lost. The fine sense of beauty which God has here so 
largely provided for, will not be left out, but enlarged. 

I do not suppose that anything innocent or beauti- 
ful may be lost; I suppose that with a similar nature 
and similar scenes there will be similar ties and affec- 
tions. I do believe that the human heart will be left 
there. It is to be the same body, but it is to be un- 
like no less than like. " Sown a natural body, raised 
a spiritual body " — raised, refined, and elevated to a 
degree we can now hardly imagine. In that higher 
pattern of the human nature everything shall be left 
out which weakens or debases, and mighty gifts shall 
be added. Many have such a low idea of what is 


called matter, that they will not hear of such views as 
I have been giving; it must all be spiritual. They 
know not what they ask. Matter is only a less myste- 
rious thing than spirit. "No eye has yet seen and no 
ear heard " what it is susceptible of. 

What a body might be I will not venture to say; 
but it is easy to conceive of a body worthy to appear 
among the sons of God when they come into the pres- 
ence of God. Think of a power of vision which, look- 
ing through a finer medium than our light, could see 
and make the man as if present through almost endless 
ranges of beings and worlds; think of an ear which, 
hearing through a finer element than air, could catch 
the distant hum of a star, or the low cry of distress 
from the deathbed of a human penitent; think of a 
power, of a motion, which could come and go with the 
lightnings, which could run side by side with the roll- 
ing of a planet, the glancing of the light; or which 
could flash through the universe on an errand of mercy 
and joy swifter than the swiftest of the elements. The 
highest notion which some people have of spirit is 
lower and more gross than what the body may become. 
Sir Humphry Davy remarks that all the analogies of 
gross matter fail when applied to light; and may not 
the body be made of something not only as spiritual 
as light, but compared with which light itself may 
seem almost gross .-^ 

Hear Saint Paul's sublime expressions. "It is 
sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption ; it is 


sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in 
weakness, it is raised in power." Who is so exalted 
that he disdains such a body? Who so spiritual that 
he thinks the vehicle too gross? What enjoyment 
when its sublime organs, its pure, rich sensibilities 
feel, if I may say so, the image of God imprinted in 
the beauty, and order, and joy of his infinite works; 
when the love and worship of God shall be one un- 
divided act with the natural expression and feeling, 
with every glorious sight, with every thought and 
deed! It will all be religion; it will all be a temple, 
— no sun, as now. 

These views, expressed most imperfectly, are yet 
important. Nothing seems more misunderstood than 
the Scripture idea of the future. The resurrection of 
the same body stands in the New Testament as an 
eminent fact, yet I ask if there is in the Christian 
church any peculiar impression from it? What are, 
or have been, our ideas of heaven? Most shadowy, 
vague, unnatural ! Scarcely better in physical respects 
than the heathen idea of the place of shadows. No 
wonder that the thought of heaven is so little dwelt 
on; it is not heaven we are thinking of. A Christian 
man should live immersed in rich foreshadowings of 
the world to come. There is a place prepared for 
us, fitted for us, poor, sinful, suffering creatures, 
" where God shall wipe away all tears from our eyes, 
and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow nor 
crying, neither shall there be anymore pain; for the 


former things are passed away." "Where we shall 
hunger no more, neither thirst any more." "Where 
the flesh shall be fresher than a child's, and he shall 
return to the days of his youth." Though we descend 
in gloom, "he will ransom us from the power of the 
grave." "This corruptible must put on incorruption, 
and this mortal must put on immortality." 



Beloved^ now are we the Sons of God, and it doth not yet appear 
what we shall be : but we know that when He shall appear 
we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. — 
I St. John iii. 2. 

WHAT a magnificent point of departure is this in 
the effort of the mind to search out its coming 
destiny! "Beloved, now are we the Sons of God;" 
that is the foundation already laid. "And though it 
doth not yet appear what we shall be," though in 
many points that future condition must be undeter- 
mined, yet one thing we do know, that being now 
"Sons of God," our advance is to be in that direction, 
towards a nearer, nobler likeness to God; sons now, 
we shall in a higher style be sons then. Whatever 
uncertainties there be, this one thing we know, — that 
"when he shall appear we shall be like him." Pro- 
gress in the likeness, or, which is the same thing, in 
the sonship of God, is the one sublime certainty in 
the coming history of our spirits. To know our 
coming history is no less a legitimate demand of our 
nature than to know the past. It is profoundly fit 
that every man should ask, "What am I to be.? " and I 


think God has fully answered that question. Not, 
indeed, when regarded as a question of curiosity, but 
as an inquiry springing out of our spiritual wants. 
Man is to grow in the sonship of God, — that is, in 
the whole likeness of Christ in body and spirit. That 
is the whole of the revelation given us as to the 
future. The wonderful idea of the resurrection of 
the body is but a part of the larger thought that the 
sons of God are to reappear in the image of Christ; 
for the image of Christ is inclusive of their lower as 
well as their higher nature. We are to be like God 
the Invisible in and through a perfect likeness to God 
the Visible, — that is, the Son of God who himself is 
the "brightness of the Father's glory and the express 
image of his person." This one thought I regard as a 
grand revelation of the substance of the whole future. 
This future is usually thought of as general and vague; 
general it is, but not vague. Whatever be our best 
and most vivid conceptions of what is divine, what- 
ever our highest ideas of beauty, power, holiness, 
whether we catch glimpses of them from the universe 
of God without, or from the Spirit of God within, — 
all this we know is but a fragment and shadow of 
Christ; and so, if we are to be made like unto him, all 
this is to be inherited and lived in our beings here- 
after. What knowledge can be more distinct.^ It is 
only the trifling, the circumstantial, the accidental of 
which we are not informed. If I can settle it as the 
most certain of facts that my whole nature, lower as 


well as higher, is to pass through birth after birth, of 
rising likeness to the first beautiful, the first powerful, 
the first good, — that is, Jesus Christ, — there is 
nothing left through all the awful days of eternity that 
I care to be informed of. " I pass them unalarmed. " 
Is it, indeed, the destiny of man to grow like God? 
That is the only point on which I intensely wish to 
be assured. The Scripture is full of manifold declara- 
tions of it. I shall only attend to the special evidence 
of it given in this most beautiful text; it is twofold. 
First, as has been mentioned, " Now already are we 
the Sons of God," — which is an appeal not only to 
the assurance of present consciousness that our spirits 
have already taken a certain direction as a matter of 
fact, but a depth of spiritual persuasion felt through 
the whole being that this is the unspeakably true and 
right destiny and direction of our beings, and that the 
most sacred promises of God are in it. But there is 
yet another and very striking reason given for our 
likeness to God hereafter. "Beloved, now are we the 
Sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall 
be: but we know that when he shall appear we shall 
be like him, for we shall see him as he is." There is 
a profound meaning here, but it is not obvious. We 
see and know many things which we are not like, — we 
are not like the characters around us, for example, yet 
we understand them. Nay, the devils know God and 
tremble. Still the reasoning of the apostle is just. 
Here is one of those glimpses into the very heart of 


things, found so often in this wonderful writer. It 
will be seen, if we reflect, that we can know nothing 
to which we are not in some sense like; and that the 
degree of our knowledge is in proportion to the degree 
of our likeness. I know the external world of matter 
only as I am mysteriously brought into a certain fel- 
lowship with it through my body. I know the animals 
beneath me, only in so far as there is a certain like- 
ness between their nature and mine ; and where that 
likeness stops the animals are like a sealed book to 
me. In respect to my fellow-men, I know their pas- 
sions and character merely by their likeness to some- 
thing which I have experienced in myself. Were I 
wanting in the seed of malice in my heart, I could 
never know the meaning of murder. Were I wanting 
in the seed of holiness, the life of a good man, or of 
Jesus Christ, would be utterly an enigma to me. In 
short, I can by no possibility know anything in other 
beings of which I have not the rudiments in myself, 
and the more perfectly I possess any characteristic of 
another the more perfectly do I know him. 

Thus Shakespeare's breadth of knowledge of man 
was based on the breadth of his co-naturalness with 
men. Then the more I am like God, the more can I 
see him as he is, on the very same principle that, all 
other things being equal, the wicked man best under- 
stands the wicked and the good man the good. To be 
sure, a certain degree of knowledge of God all men 
have, but this also depends upon likeness to God; for 


this likeness may be (even where all moral likeness is 
lost) in the intellectual nature. We are now ready to 
see the depth of Saint John's meaning when he says 
that the Sons of God shall be like God, for they shall 
"see him as he is." "Now," says Saint Paul, "we see 
through a glass, darkly, but then face to face. Now I 
know in part, but then shall I know even as also I 
am known." Speaking of children the Saviour says: 
" Their angels do always behold the face of my Father. " 
And above all in force, perhaps because of its simpli- 
city, is the saying: "Blessed are the pure in heart, for 
they shall see God." If this be so, then, Saint John 
argues, we shall, we must be like the Being we see. 
I would not venture on such expressions were I not 
warranted by this revelation from God. The utter- 
ness of knowledge the spirit is to have of God, it is 
not possible to express more strongly than the Bible 
does. If it be, I repeat, from the consciousness of 
what is in ourselves that we know others, then it is 
implied that we must be ourselves godlike to know 
God as he is. His nature must be in our nature. I 
am astonished at the boldness of the Scripture decla- 
rations. In our mouths they would be blasphemy. It 
is obviously meant that we should regard our destiny 
as reaching and transcending the very highest point 
which is possible to our imaginations. Was there 
ever such sweet grandeur, such tender and lofty prom- 
ises, in any words as these : " Beloved, now are we 
the Sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we 


shall be; but we know that when he shall appear we 
shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is." If 
this be so, what can be so beneath his own claims as 
man, with such a title in his hand, choosing for him- 
self the portion of a mere earth-worm, deliberately 
judging himself unworthy of eternal life? 

It seems to be clearly true, both from what we see 
of the latent possibilities in the soul of man, and from 
the outspoken word of God, that such a future is pos- 
sible to man. Yet behold the race perishing from 
morning to morning as if it were but an immense herd 
of animals. We are in a dream. Beloved, hear the 
word of God. For a brief moment we are passing 
through an obscured and animal condition, but soon 
there is to be a revelation, — an unclosing of the Sons 
of God, — when the whole creation shall with us be 
delivered into a glorious liberty of the sons of God. 
It would become us to awake, then, to know that — as 
much by false humility as by false pride — we are 
deceived. The world of sense clouds us and dupes 
us; but there is deep mercy. We are, indeed, of an 
unspeakable sort of being, of unspeakable hopes; and 
every man that hath the beginning of these hopes in 
him knows that there is eternal life in him, and so, 
as the apostle says, "purifieth himself even as he is 
pure." Let him then cast off the works of darkness 
and assume more and more that nature of pure inde- 
structible life to which he is called. I know not how 
to speak of this when I look at what we are losing on 


the one hand and gaining on the other. I say soberly, 
but with profound earnestness, that we sleep, that the 
true life is unknown to us, and that unless we become 
conscious of it, — conscious that " now are we the Sons 
of God," — it must be that when he shall appear we 
shall not be like him or see him, — that is, we shall 
have a future without God. 



Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And 
he said unto them. Strive to enter in at the strait gate ; for 
many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in attd shall not be 
able. — St. Luke xiii. 23, 24, 

"^ I "HE curious Jew who asked this question is not 
-^ alone in his curiosity. The whole world has 
asked it, from the first-born man to the present day; 
and at every new burial the mind peers into the dark 
and asks, Is this one saved? No answer; but this at 
least seems probable, that there are many who are not. 
That many souls perish would seem probable if the 
Lord had never told us. 

Whether a man believes that to perish means anni- 
hilation or means a living death, whatever sort of 
failure he may think it to be, — for there are several 
destinies possible to perverted souls, — in any case 
failure of some sort seems a fact possible and prob- 
able, for we see that failure marks a large proportion 
of everything which attempts to live, — seeds, animals, 
men. Besides, from what we know of the men around 
us and of our own souls, we cannot shut our eyes to 
the fact that deterioration, decline, and other than 


improvement and growth, mark many people. The 
fact is so sad that it fills one with gloom to mention 
it, but it is so. 

There are those who believe in what is called uni- 
versal restoration. Hopeful natures would naturally 
think this. I am willing to allow that such hope is 
sometimes founded on a strong confidence in the 
goodness of God ; and most gladly would I believe it, 
but the facts before us and the facts within us seem to 
unite in solemn concord with the voice of Christ that 
there are many who shall not be saved. Various may 
be, will be, the destinies of unascending, unsaved 
spirits, and I dare say Christian people conceive all 
the circumstances of this subject very foolishly; but 
that there will be many who will not enter into life, 
the Lord declares, and it also looks terribly probable 
in- itself. More than that: according to our Lord's 
teaching there are many who seek — that is, wish, and 
in some measure aim — to enter into life, who are not 
able. " Many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, 
and shall not be able;" for the gate is strait. This 
simple, homely figure of the strait gate is used more 
than once; it is the same thing, essentially, as where 
he says of the rich man, that " it is easier for a camel 
to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man 
to enter into the kingdom of God. " 

Christ felt that the entrance into life demands push- 
ing and struggling, and that a man, if he gets through, 
must strive through ; or, as in the original, agonize 



through. "Agonize to enter in at the strait gate." A 
man must contract and crush his inflated self to enter; 
he cannot expect to enter by idle wishes. 

The disagreeable truth, then, is that a man may 
know whether he is entering life by this, — that he is 
in an agony. The new creature is born into the 
natural world and into the spiritual world usually 
through an agony of travail. And the fact is nothing 
strange, and not at all peculiar to this matter. For 
example, the man who loves truth agonizes, through a 
mental world confused and dark, towards daylight; 
the man who has the shadow of a beautiful idea in him 
agonizes to fix the shadow into form. It is all a sort 
of divine ascension, and to ascend is always hard. 

To be a good citizen a man must be in an agony. 
Even those things which seem very easy and natural 

— to be a good husband, a good father, a good friend 

— have each at times their agony. But where you ask 
a man, half an animal, a citizen of this earth, to be a 
citizen of an unseen world, to be a companion of 
spirits, to be a lover of God, to hear sounds and see 
sights and trust in facts of which there is not a 
whisper in this atmosphere, — then, of course, for such 
a man to reach such a great change is agony. 

Some kinds of so-called great things are just im- 
posed upon us, but all really great things are born 
from within, through a striving out from our own 
centre. It is literally spiritual creation. 

It would be an injurious calumny on this great crea- 


tion or ascension of man into the image of God to 
speak of striving as its constant and painful mark. 
Religious success has just the same history as any 
other success. Earnestness and striving must, to be 
sure, lie at the bottom of all good achievement. I 
look at the boy mechanic and see how hard a thing it 
is for him to handle his tools or to calculate his work; 
but when he becomes a little older, though there is 
earnest strife with his work still, yet what healthy 
ease and enjoyment there is in it ! So of the business 
man; and so of all work up to the highest. The 
apprentice must strive, but the master-workman, 
though a workman still, is a ;;^(^i-/rr-workman. 

In moral life how hard it is for little children to 
stand on their feet, to walk straight, to tell the truth, 
to do anything logical and in the way older people 
desire; but when they learn these things what delight 
in doing themx ! How hard it is for many mature 
people to say "No " to wrong things and foolish solici- 
tations; to resist the bent to say a disagreeable thing 
about people they dislike, or to sit and hear such 
things said! how hard to do almost any moral thing! 
But when they have striven and done it repeatedly, 
the doing soon has in it a robust pleasure. 

I know some persons who, though their range of 
moral duty may be very confined, yet have got such 
ease and sureness within that range, that they may be 
said to be masters in the art of right living. So it is 
as to resisting all wrong; so it is as to the confession of 


sin. This is a thing hateful to be heard of; but the 
child who has overcome his pride, and does it with 
sobs at his mother's knee, and the larger child, man, 
who has overcome his pride and bows before the all- 
merciful Father, saying, "I have sinned; pardon my 
sin," — both come to find such confession easy. So of 
the whole range of obedience to God, and love and 
trust in Christ our Saviour. At every point there is 
an agonizing necessary to enter into life, for, of 
course, as we have grown so crooked, it takes a hard 
wrench to set us straight; but we must make this 
wrench, or we shall be crooked forever; we must 
enter with pain the strait gate, or we shall be outside 

Observe that the Lord in this place makes no other 
penalty, but simply this, — the remaining outside of 
the good life. I see the same thing every day as a 
present fact of the heart. I see that because we hate 
to struggle into good habits, we grow more and more 
unfit and unable to enter; so we are self-ejected, and 
every day farther and farther ejected, and are giving 
up ourselves to a deadly luxuriousness, our wrong 
souls growing fixed as iron; and I see that if we are 
just left in that way we are self-determined, self- 
doomed to be outside of life; and I know that to be 
outside of the good life must be, whatever name we 
give it, bitterness and death. 

What punishment do we want worse than the bad or 
poor heart left to itself finally, the body stripped off, 


the comforts of sense gone, and the spirit doomed to 
the perpetual disappointment of seeking and seeking 
without finding, doomed to the perpetual pain of its 
own bad company in regions where God is less and 
less known ; where, finally, the soul is not kept away 
from God or life at any moment by any external 
power — that is, a blasphemous view of God, — but 
is forever kept away by its own bad choice, seeking 
its life in the sphere of death, and too utterly ener- 
vated to arise and say, "There is still a Father's 

Yes; to remain outside will be the perpetual 
choice of the spirit; its hell is its own selection. 
Does this seem impossible.'^ Alas! have you never 
seen in others, or have you never felt in yourself, this 
awful anomaly of a course chosen, yet at which your 
soul sickens .-* Have you never known a besotted man 
who chose ignominy, and ruin, chose to tread under 
his feet the bleeding hearts of those he still loved, 
chose a diseased body, chose death, rather than 
agonize and break away and enter the strait gate? 
That is a fact of human nature now before us, and 
that fact makes the real dread which impends over the 
future career of every spirit which will not now strive 
while strength is left it. 

Some will point to the free gift of life, purchased 
through the striving and agony of the great sacrifice. 
I can also say, *' Thanks be unto God for his unspeak- 
able gift." I well believe and know that the mercy of 


God, as seen in Christ, does to every heart which 
feels it, — make hard virtue easy, gives wings for feet. 
But striving is still the necessity of man. We must 
purify ourselves as he purified himself, through sor- 
row, through striving; not now, however, through 
gloomy but through glad striving, ascending a hard 
road, but singing, — a new song put into our mouths; 
for, with mercy and love over us, "Wisdom's ways 
are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace." 



Judge not according to the appearance^ but judge righteous 
judgment. — St. John vii. 24. 

HERE is the maxim of all science, of all justice, 
of all charity, of all religion. It stands op- 
posed to the great maxim of prejudice in all spheres, 
which is, judge according to appearances. 

I do not speak of formed malice or of deliberate hos- 
tility, but of those ungrounded or excessive distastes 
we are apt to form as to persons and things. Society 
suffers enough from formal enmities, but not more, 
perhaps not so much, as from prejudices which, though 
not so deep, are diffused over a far wider surface. 
Not only are the occasions of great enmities fewer, 
but, as they are felt to be decided evils, both the con- 
science and the prudence of men guard against them; 
while prejudices are allowed free way, and creep 
unconsciously into all bosoms. 

We are little aware of the wide and darkening effect 
of prejudice. It is as if a low, black mist were dif- 
fused over the surface of the world, blearing and dis- 
torting everything; and not until this low, black mist 
is lifted will the real earth and the heavens and all 


that is in them stand forth as they are in the bright, 
shining atmosphere of truth. 

We call this prejudice, and it seems no great mat- 
ter; but could we see the whole scope of mistakes and 
aversions which come out of it, — first night, and then 
monsters of the night, — it would seem a horrible 
agent, breathing a malign dark out of the mouth of 
the pit and spreading upon the face of the world. 
Begin with the hereditary prejudices of races, which 
date back — some of them — ^to the first ages, through 
which great divisions of the population of the earth 
have almost or altogether lost the idea of their common 
humanity in monstrous caricatures, bred w^holly out of 
their distate and ignorance. If the feeling which the 
different races of the world have of each other were 
written down as a description of man, the world would 
be known as a place inhabited by fools, beasts, dogs, 
and devils. Think of four hundred millions of men 
holding such notions of all other men as the Chinese 
do! Nay, think of us in our feelings towards them, 
as if the whole of China were a great farce, that awful 
mass of immortal creatures, nearly one third the race, 
one of two or three of the large oceans of life on this 
planet, — that most ancient race, looked at by us with a 
sort of laughing contempt, all the depths of humanity 
there lost in our sense of the national peculiarities. 

The prejudices of nations, too, — look at them. 
History is a record of mistake and the silliest ani- 
mosity, from the traditional hates and feuds of tribes 


and clans, founded on nothing, up to the vast preju- 
dices which separated the little Greek or Roman 
nucleus from the whole world outside, and which led 
the most renowned teacher of them all, even in teach- 
ing the highest morals, to allow that war could be 
justly made against all men, because all were bar- 
barians. Think of that ! — the highest moral authority 
of the world for centuries teaching that subjugation or 
destruction was fit for all, on the simple assumption 
that the perpetrators were higher than all. 

These distastes of races and nations, though of a 
higher type now, still in the nineteenth century stand 
as walls of partition between the most Christian peo- 
ples of the world. Then there are the prejudices of 
systems or principles, — such as forms of government, 
religions, etc. Constantly all the good is with us and 
all the evil with others, and these feelings attach them- 
selves even to their names; and after the division is 
made and the name has been fixed, it then matters 
little what the system is or how much it may change, 
or whether it loses much that was objectionable, — 
for ages the same names will carry down the same 
hates, for names and words rule the world. 

Let us look only at the views of Christian bodies 
around us as to one another now, at this moment. 
Some of them differ mainly in that they are divided 
and worship under different roofs, and yet the mere 
facts of separation and of strangeness allow that selfish 
imagination to act which pictures all things different 


from us to be worse and strangely worse. Here is 
this unspeakable spectacle of folly at this moment 
among those who stand in the lead of the leading 
civilization of the world. Or, when the differences 
are real, what absurd phantoms are conjured up ! 
Calvinism, Arminianism, — why, once huge masses 
of people in the world had the most dreadful ideas of 
other huge masses of people as if they were scarcely 
human, only because these names were called over 
them. And large fragments of the feeling are left. 
Then there are social and personal prejudices. Of 
social prejudices let me name but two, — those of 
rank and wealth. Rank, family, position, — 'there are 
communities where the whole social fabric is founded 
on such distinctions; but even these are not without 
their use, so long as it is an honorable pride in the 
real merit of one's race, and a high conscience to keep 
one's own life in noble accord with a noble standard. 
But when this feeling becomes so debased as we some- 
times find it, when persons assuming some fiction of 
excellence sit to arbitrate the claims of their fellow- 
creatures, and looking round, with weak and foolish 
eyes, cannot even see anything outside of their own 
frivolous set, what shall we say? You had an ancestor 
who did well, perhaps; and do you on that account — 
you who do ill or do nothing — dare to judge and rule 
out other people, to measure yourself with the man 
who now, to-day, is doing well and approving himself 
to God and men? 


There are prejudices of wealth also, — the prejudices 
between the rich and poor, both sides judging accord- 
ing to appearance, and neither of them a righteous 
judgment. Separated widely, neither sees into the 
true heart of the other. In this country the people 
without fortune are often envious and discontented at 
the happier lot of those within their sight, who, work- 
ing no harder than they, are much above them. The 
necessary decorum of their demeanor and associations, 
prejudice will call pride; the necessary decorum of 
their style of living, prejudice will call ostentation. 
If they give much, their charity goes with many for 
mere selfishness and show; if they conceal their gifts 
they are niggardly. 

The prosperous men of this country, considering 
the sort of life and habits which usually must be 
formed in getting wealth, and considering the tempta- 
tions from its possession to conceit, to luxurious or 
avaricious selfishness, have done and are doing as well 
as any other class. I know that, in view of all the 
possible mercy and bounty and nobleness that money 
might effect, one always must ardently long that the 
responsibilities and true grandeur of wealth should be 
better felt. Would to God, and for the sake of 
Christ, they were better felt! But what right have 
we to judge our fellows by a higher mark than we set 
ourselves.'* Let us not by harsh misjudgments harden 
hearts which are quite as good as ours. It is fit that 
they as well as all men should be solemnly reminded 


of their high duty, and should by right authority be 
solemnly rebuked for their failures; but it is even 
more fit that they should be led back to the divine 
beneficence of Christ by gratitude for the good they 
do, by cordial greeting and affection, when we see one 
from among them rising above his powerful tempta- 
tions, and with all the bulk of his impediments pass- 
ing through the eye of the needle into the kingdom of 
mercy to others and of heaven to himself. All honor 
to him who reaches this, and honor too to him whom 
we can see but beginning and leaning towards it! 
May there be in honest hearts no unmeaning admira- 
tion of riches irrespective of the man who holds them; 
still less that cruel prejudice which allows for nothing, 
misinterprets everything, and is almost enough to 
turn into stone a heart willing to begin a career of 

On the other hand, and if possible with deeper feel- 
ing, would I conjure the refined and prosperous to 
draw nigh the poorer men as brothers. At a distance 
we misjudge all. Within the sad deformities of 
poverty, or an unrefined life, is the wonderful soul 
of a man. Imitate the wide and divine sympathies of 
the blessed Master of us all. If there be indolence, 
falsehood, dishonesty, ingratitude, pity the man who 
through the misfortunes of birth, of education, of 
intercourse, has been led into the profounder misfor- 
tunes of the heart; pity and judge mercifully "the 
brother of low degree." 


Let us from social prejudices pass down and clear 
our hearts of those personal distates and misjudgments 
which are constantly forming themselves in us, and 
which fill the world with wrong. 

There are two ways of looking on our fellow- 
creatures. One is to find what is congenial to a 
certain fancy we have, and then to let feelings of dis- 
like go out upon all persons below this or different 
from it. The other is to look earnestly for an aspect 
of good in persons at first distasteful. Take the 
former course and we shall soon narrow out, and 
with a high hand condemn the whole world; take the 
latter and we shall enlarge our hearts until we find a 
jewel even in the head of the toad, and the whole 
world will come in and take a place in our interests. 
As in foods, acquired tastes often become the most 
vivid and permanent, so is it here. Nay, the best in 
all departments of truth, of beauty, of persons, is often 
the most hidden to the first glance, — an angel un- 
awares. Often 

" It is retired as noontide dew, 

Or fountain in a noonday grove, 
And you must love it ere to you 
It will seem worthy of your love." 

But people, as if it were a virtue, pride themselves on 
the narrowest narrowness they can reach, and say, in 
effect, " My present taste and judgment are perfect, 
and all merit is to be measured by them." Now this 
is a grave moral delinquency, and it operates far 


more poisonously, where we imagine or receive some 

We owe it to our fellow-creatures to judge them not 
at all in this way, to judge not after appearances, but 
to judge righteous judgment. This slight distaste is 
the seed of hate, and hate is the seed of murder; it is 
the first but decided note of a discord which runs out 
to a hell. Practically such feelings do more, I think, 
than all others to darken life and to unchristianize it. 
Many, indeed, acquire a sort of habit of hostility: the 
first thoughts and feelings are something more than 

Could we meet everybody, no matter though there 
be a real personal provocation, with a determination 
to judge others justly, at least, — I will not say gen- 
erously, — we would do much for the kingdom of 
Christ in the world. 

We will find our account in this mode of just feel- 
ing and judging; for if I am conscious of a prejudice, 
I must either become a hypocrite and a coward in 
concealing and feigning, or I must show my dislike 
and produce hostility; and so at last, in cither way, 
reap into my own bosom the bitter fruit of my mis- 
erable feuds. It is an honor to human nature that it 
cannot be happy under such feelings. The conscious- 
ness of the feelings of others towards us infuses its 
tone through all the hours of the day. Even when we 
do not think, our spirits carry along with them their 
bright or dark atmosphere. If I know of an enemy or 


a friend in any quarter of the globe, I am the richer or 
poorer by it. 

*' If I be dear to some one else, 
Then I should be to myself more dear." 

Resolutely resist, then, the first risings of preju- 
dicial feeling. Let us judge honorably in our own 
soul of every man we meet; let us not start on the 
supposition that all excellence takes its shape from 
our taste; let our judgment-seat within be as spotless 
as the ermine of the public magistrate. 

The most important of our prejudices are those in 
respect to religion. There is something intrinsically 
disagreeable in Christianity at first, however fairly it 
may present itself; absurd prejudgments of what is 
excellent bar the way to its reception. Yes; though 
it vary and adapt itself, though John come from the 
wilderness, austere, in camel's hair, it will be said 
"He hath a devil;" or though the Son of man come 
in the dwellings and social feasts of men, genially 
and affably eating and drinking, he will be blamed as 
"a gluttonous man and a wine-bibber." Religion 
pipes unto us, but we will not dance; it mourns unto 
us, but we will not weep. In whatever guise it comes 
this innate prejudice dislikes it, and the celestial 
truth is reproached and cast out. Still it seems to me 
that its friends are answerable for no little of this 
distaste. To what eye hath the naked and accom- 
plished beauty of Christ and his faith, just as it really 
is, ever come "i Half-monstrous shapes have been for 


long ages roaming the earth as the very Christ, libel- 
ling God and confusing the human heart. Many 
thoughtful men of refined tastes, seeing Christianity 
blended perhaps with much that is false or exagger- 
ated and absurd in sentiment, stand at a distance, and 
though they may not definitely disbelieve, yet in their 
hearts they decline to accept Christ as their Master 
and Saviour. The vi^hole ground of religion is a dis- 
tasteful region, — a sort of Nazareth, — and they say, 
" Can any good thing come out of it ? " 

To this old question I repeat the old answer: 
"Come and see." Judge not of this vital interest by 
its appearance, but judge righteous judgment. Here 
is the very face of God shown in Jesus Christ. If we 
will but put off the coverings and draw near, we shall 
see, and our souls will be lifted up and saved out of 
the sin and death into which they are gradually sink- 
ing, and in his life they will find life. Only "come 
and see." Learn the great wisdom to distrust appear- 
ances. God mysteriously allows false looks to cover 
the true, the holy; and thus is tested the ardor of our 
soul in seeking it. Distrust prejudices. 

In this spirit learn we to-day to judge all persons 
and all things, and especially the things of Christ. We 
are here on earth for this purpose; we arc disciples of 
light, to know the truth, that the truth may make us 
free; and in his light may v/e see light. Thus, find- 
ing truth, we shall find in it holiness and peace towards 
God; and charity and brotherhood towards man. 



Search the ScripUtres. — St. John v. 39. 

TT is doubted whether the Caliph Omar burned the 
^ great library at Alexandria (one of the most cala- 
mitous events in the history of literature) ; but he is 
reported to have said, in defence of the act, that these 
books contained either what was found in the Koran 
or more than was found there. If they contained any- 
thing new or additional to that perfect book they must 
be false, — if they contained just what it contained 
they were superfluous, and in either case might safely 
and justly be destroyed. This places in striking con- 
trast the narrowness of the Mahometan faith with our 
own; for though we have a book as rationally sacred 
as theirs is, yet in the spirit of God's word there is 
the profoundest incitement and encouragement to 
thought. "The Christain faith," says Lord Bacon, 
"as in all things, so in this, deserveth to be magnified; 
holding and preserving the golden mediocrity in this 
point between the law of the heathen and the law of 
Mahomet, which have embraced the two extremes. 
For the religion of the heathen had no constant belief 
or confession, but left all to the liberty of argument; 



and the religion of Mahomet on the other side inter- 
dicted argument altogether. The one having the very 
face of error, and the other of imposture." Indeed 
we are not conscious how divinely Christianity com- 
bines its peculiar authoritativeness with a noble 
liberty, nay, a deep and urgent prompting to thought. 
So that since the introduction of Christianity to the 
world every great movement of mental progress seems 
to have owed its existence mainly, at the least, to the 
peculiarly arousing power of its influence; and now 
under and through a Christian civilization look around 
and behold the amazing extent in all directions to 
which human thought has reached. Survey the mag- 
nificent mass of mental achievement; and yet to get 
even a tolerable glance at it requires an amount of 
information few can possess. 

But while the Bible is thus contrasted with the Koran, 

— while it burns no libraries but makes them, and may 
be called the father, or, at least, the most important foun- 
tain of all modern learning, — there has sprung from this 
very result a neglect of the Bible itself. It is forgotten, 
superseded, in the minds of many, by the other sources 
of mental delight and instruction which it has itself 
laid open. If other books faithfully represented the 
moral image of the Bible this neglect of the Bible 
would be less regretted; but this is not the fact, as 
we know. Indeed it is even astounding to see how 
Utile under what I have called Christian civilization, 

— how little of the spirit and peculiarities of the Bible 


are reproduced in other books. Some of our best 
literature, while it has been imbued and colored with 
the tone of feeling and thought common among Chris- 
tian nations, — that amount of the Christian spirit 
which has been gradually shed through society and 
which distingui-shes it from the social tone of ancient 
and modern heathenism, — beyond this presents the 
singular aspect (unparalleled in the history of all 
thought) of a literature with small signs of a religion. 
Look into the books of any other than a Christian 
people, and you will find them full of the signs of .the 
prevalent faith. Not so with ours. Much even of 
our standard literature is not only naked of all reli- 
gion, but of all peculiarly Christian morality. Many 
of the books which fill the shelves of a Christian gen- 
tleman are of such a low moral tone as I think, con- 
sidering their origin, more disgusting than anything 
to be found in the classics of Paganism, — and com- 
pared with which some of the pure-minded heathen 
seem almost Christians. This, however, is much im- 
proved now ; it is one of the best tests that we are not 
falling back but advancing in good, that the books 
most read at present are usually, on the score of posi- 
tive vice or error, so unobjectionable. Just now, 
within a very few years, the most of this beneficial 
change has occurred, — though the least acquaintance 
with the past will show that this advance has long 
been on foot. But while this ought to be acknowl- 
edged, still it is clear enough that our literature in no 


adequate degree reflects the truths or spirit of our 
religion, that the main impression of the books read 
is an unchristian impression, — something uncongenial 
to the unearthly, holy temper of Christ; or that, 
where this may not be the case, it is true at the least 
that the spirit is occupied and absorbed by the world 
of books (including in the term "books," daily and 
weekly, as well as more permanent publications), to 
the neglect of the one book which contains the pure 
message of God to his creatures. 

What, then, are the difficulties in this matter? 
The first is the disagreeableness of the truths of the 
Bible. Where a man is not earnestly devoted to God 
he cannot desire to read a book which tells him such 
things as the Bible does, for it is a mirror where a 
man sees himself stripped of all beautiful disguises. 
Some of the sublime poetry, the sweet, simple history, 
the glowing eloquence or the deep truth of it will at 
times interest all cultivated minds; but so long as 
they believe it is from God, and yet live opposed to 
it, they will find its pages distasteful and even pain- 
ful. The want of interest is the next difficulty in the 
way of Bible-reading, and, to be candid, this is the 
chief difficulty. If I were to speak out the feeling of 
most hearts — even those who hope they are Chris- 
tians — it would be: "I take little or no interest in 
reading the Bible; I regret it, but so it is. I find it 
dull, heavy; and if persisted in insupportably tedious; 
my mind does not take hold on it. Many other books 


or the newspapers fasten my attention without an 
effort; but here all is labor and dryness. I attempt, 
to be sure, to go through with a certain portion of it 
daily, and particularly on Sundays; but were I to tell 
the truth, I often find it more of a task than anything 
else I do through the day." I hope this confession 
would be far from suiting the condition of all minds. 
Here is a large collection of writings gathered through 
the space of two thousand years, written by a great 
variety of men, and referring to the most various cir- 
cumstances. But, as it is all the Bible, we open it any- 
where and read it in any way; and then if it does not 
by some magic force its meaning upon us and enchain 
our interest, the whole matter is distasteful and dis- 
couraging. Now let me say at once that we must 
expect no miracles, but must go to work here with the 
same good sense we use in any other concern. One 
obvious rule of plain sense is, that we begin by read- 
ing such portions as we can understand easiest, and 
enter into. Acquire in the way that suits each one 
best a taste for the book, a habit of resorting to it 
with pleasure, and then one gradually grows into the 
deeper mind of it, and an interest will arise for what 
is now quite barren. On taking up any book of 
Scripture let us endeavor to put ourselves as much in 
the time, place, and circumstances as we can ; and then, 
and not till then, will the writing have full meaning 
and interest for us. Recall the times past. As far 
as we can, live them over again. Is this hard or im- 


possible? Every one does it often in reading a tale of 
fiction, — nay, has done it with such power as to weep 
with the distresses and laugh over the follies of this 
world of imaginary beings. Shall all this fine force of 
imagination be given us only as an amusement to 
solace our rest or our idleness; and shall we exert 
none of its wonderful faculty in giving life, interest, 
and power to those scenes and persons and truths 
which God, at such expense, and through four thousand 
years, has prepared for our use, and on the right use 
of which depends our character and lot at the present, 
and in the life to come? I can add only one more 
rule of reading, — read with a personal reference. 
When a precept is dull, nothing will give it life more 
effectually than by examining one's self by it. In the 
scenes and trials of Scripture history (not only in the 
Old Testament, but through the life of the Saviour 
and of his followers), conceive ourselves when we read 
in the same situations, and imagine our conduct there, 
and the whole history will become at once not only 
instinct with life, but with the best instructions. 
Look along that magnificent line and array of holy 
men who are set in the pure pages of Scripture. Let 
us examine them, apply our characteristics to theirs, 
discover our weakness thereby, sympathize with their 
excellence, and be lifted into something of the same, 
through "that self-same spirit which worketh all in 
all." Read the Scriptures in this way, or in any way 
that will give them interest and vitality. 


Oh, there is an inexpressible inconsistency in all our 
lives, and in nothing does it show itself more remark- 
ably than in our treatment of the Bible. We say, here 
is the book of God. God hath spoken to man, and this 
is the record; and in this record is to be found all 
that should stir the deepest feelings of human nature. 
Yet this message of the Most High God, bringing to 
light life and immortality; this history of Christ, 
whose page is at once effulgent with his glory, and 
sprinkled with his blood, is regarded by many with no 
interest whatever. Many have their family Bible, in 
which is inserted a register of births and deaths, and 
the book is surrounded, perhaps, by most hallowed 
associations. This is really a good old custom; but it 
is not good to let the book become a mere venerable 
relic, a fine old piece of furniture. With some the 
Bible is scarcely opened from one year to another, or 
only for a few moments on a Sunday, and then quickly 
got clear of. The world of books are crowded before 
the mind; but this king of books is lost entirely in 
the crowd. Some regard it with a superstitious awe, 
and look with wonder at seeing another reading it, 
and would be by no means gratified if they were sur- 
prised while reading it themselves. Others, if they 
take it up more regularly, do it under a sense of duty, 
and a hard duty they often find it. Now just to think 
of this, to believe or say, as we do practically to God, 
"You have sent us a message of mercy; but we do feel 
it the most dull and uninterestino^ of books!" If 


anything could show to a man how far gone he is from 
righteousness, and from the interests and tastes of 
religion, it would be the wonderful indifference he 
has to the holy book of God. 

Let us change all this, and begin to look into this 
matter with enlightened views, and with such interest 
as becomes a being who has few days to live. Ask 
what message it is that God has really sent to us. 
"Search the Scriptures." Amid all the calls upon 
our attention let us respect this call first. Let us 
read it by first gathering on its page all the light 
and interest we can; and may that Divine Paraclete, 
whose office it is to show all truth, illumine our way. 
Through reading will come meditation, and through 
meditation communion with the very spirit of holi- 
ness, — and so entering, as it were, through an aper- 
ture, we will at last emerge into the widest atmosphere 
of truth and love, and above our heads will stand the 
broad firmament of God with all its light. 


If it bear fruit, well. — St. Luke xiii. 9. 

'T^HE object of living is results, — to effect some- 
^ thing. We are made in the image of God ; in 
his image in this respect among others, — that we are 
all made to be creators, each man a creator of some 
small world of good. That conception of the Hebrews, 
that God was the great workman, who not only made 
his world but worked six days at it, is more remark- 
able than we think. It marks the western character 
of the religion, and distinguishes it from the east; and 
this model of God the workman comes out fully in 
Christ, "whose meat and whose drink it was to do," 
"who went about doing," and who said, just as every 
man is bound to say : " My Father worketh hitherto, 
and I work." 

A natural life which is passive, which floats and 
absorbs and enjoys, as the jelly-fish, the cool tides 
passing through its being, or a religious life of mere 
emotion and contemplation without will or work, — this 
is not the Christian idea of man: that idea is fruit 
through work; that idea makes the true distinction of 
man. He is a creature with tools in his hand, — the 


intelligently working creature, — the producer. It 
has been said of genius, "Genius is productiveness; " 
the man of genius is the man who has a peculiar 
power of producing. We will find much truth in this 
definition if we examine it; and this genius (of course, 
in less degree) is the character of the race. Ours may 
be called the race which has genius, — that is, the 
producing power. So its highest duty is to carry out 
its nature, to recognize the demand which is upon it 
to produce. But this definition of genius is not suffi- 
cient; there is one more vital test of genius than 
production, and that is the quality of the production. 
One half hour's work of the genius of Shakespeare, or 
of the heavenly spirit of Paul or John, would outweigh 
all that whole races and sections of the world have 
contributed to the common wealth of humanity. I 
name together the genius of Shakespeare with the 
heavenly soul of Paul or John; but do not think I 
name them together to equalize them. Though both 
are beneficent powers, yet however grand the natural 
glories of Shakespeare, the prince of the natural world, 
however unbounded and tropical that fruit-bearing 
field, yet by the side of Paul and John, and by the 
side of all the high men of the spirit, he sinks and 
dwindles ; just as the beauty of a flower or a world of 
flowers, or as the majesty of a mountain or a range of 
mountains, or as the circle of the heavens themselves, 
are lost by the side of a soul purified, unselfish, and 
made over again into the authentic image of God. 


I was saying that to produce was something, but 
that we must keep in mind the quality of the thing 
produced. There are many grades of work and work- 
men. I shall name three of them, — the workman of 
evil, the waste workman, the worker of good. First, 
the worker of evil. The mass of the Christian Church 
believes that there is a being called the Devil, — the 
adversary, whose ends are simply and all bad; who is 
black even down to the ground ; who is a sort of anta- 
gonistes to God, working darkly through Nature and 
through spirits to defile and wrong them, and create 
them over again into his own image. This is an awful 
conception. But whatever may be thought as to it, 
the sacred Scriptures are certainly not wrong in think- 
ing that there is an awful power in Nature; for a faint 
shadow of such a power may be actually seen in human 
shape ; in the man, for example, who wishes or works 
for real evil to others; nay, even in the man who 
allows a baleful influence to pass from him into 
society, — who does not care much whether any soul 
or the community itself becomes a meaner thing 
because of him, — who, if not intentionally, as it is 
called, yet carelessly or selfishly sets in motion "cor- 
rupted currents of the world," which will run through 
the world as long as it lasts. Is not that to be a 
shadow of the devil } 

But suppose I do and am nothing of this bad sort, 
and suppose I merely do nothing at all, a producer of 
waste, — what then t Say you are a person of many 


gifts, but have done nothing; say you are a splendid 
stream rising in celestial mounts and flowing into 
sands, — flowing not like a Nile to create and enrich 
an Egypt, but flowing without creating or enriching 
anything, through sandy deserts and lifeless plains, 
leaving no grass or tree behind you, leaving behind 
you no fat levels, no cities, no pyramids. Purposeless 
lives, powers unused, indolence; or, if not that, if 
there is action, yet action for trifles in a thousand 
poor directions not to the purpose. Just as if we were 
a gigantic and immortal race occupied in building ant- 
hills. To support life and family is something, and 
to contribute a little to the decencies of life is more. 

I know that much labor, trifling as we may think 
it, is often the best the man can then do, the best 
the civilization then admits. Chinese literature, for 
example, — that world of labor, — or even our own 
Middle Age or later libraries, contemptible as much of 
it seems, is perhaps the best that then could be done. 
Yet as we walk through all this we are lost in aston- 
ishment at the waste; yet these, or the enormous folly 
of the pyramids, did their part in more ways than we 
think in sustaining that civilization, and were on the 
whole then and there beneficial. 

But after all is said, the waste all through! the 
oceanic waste of man and his powers! But what is 
this to the waste of trifling, fashionable life through 
generations ! 

Come now to the wise and true workman; how does 


he work to be a workman of good ? First, he works 
in that style most suitable to the character Nature 
gave him, and the position she placed him in; he does 
not attempt the work other people were created for. 
The improvement he can effect just there in his place, 
and that which he has the nature and education to 
work at, he does, and not anything else. He does that 
which best tends to best ends; he makes high duties 
and works stand first, and he subordinates others. 
That which lasts longest, of finest quality, 
— I mean true and undefiled religion, — that and its 
works are of vast magnitude to his eyes; and indeed 
a view to that runs through all his work however ordi- 
nary. He is a builder for eternity, and sees much of 
waste in every labor which does not directly or in- 
directly go in that direction. I say indirectly, — for 
indirect work for God is often the best aimed work; 
not preaching or sending preachers bears the best fruit 
always. A touching life of humble self-denial, bear- 
ing much and still affectionate, — something of that 
beautiful spirit which was in Christ, — this is influ- 
ence. If the Christian is a politician it is being 
honest in his politics, valuing the public money, 
having a heart for the country, and bringing into 
statesmanship a noble tone of public Christian honor. 
Or if he is a Christian scholar and writer, he teaches 
more Christianity in the human feeling of a novel or 
in the exalted feeling of a history where Christ is 
never named, than in any showy proclamations. The 


merchant can build up Christianity through humble 
trade, and the workman through humble work; and a 
newspaper, when it is susceptible of Christianity, can 
show it well in the report of a fact or in a discussion 
of finance. The spirit breathes through. I have seen 
a man who in some respects is very much a man of 
the world, — a club man if you will, and generally 
one of others; but with a real soul under and high 
standard at the centre. I have seen such a man meet 
baseness with so hurt a feeling, with so deep a sense 
of wrong, that it told more among his comrades than 
if a prophet had stood among them. But whether 
indirectly or directly, the good worker aiming at the 
best use of his life puts aside, as if instinctively, the 
thousand frivolous things which men from custom or 
the fashion of the day are doing, — casts his eye to the 
things most necessary for him to do, and does them. 
He knows the good of leisure and amusement, and 
enjoys thankfully the life God gives him; but he 
knows that to make his life an amusement, — why the 
butterfly, if he could understand the proposition, 
would despise it. He is, too, a prompt and decided 
person; he does not stand all his life saying, *' I would 
like to work well, but I can't make up my mind as to 
the best thing for me to do." This is not his way; 
he does the best thing he can see to do now. " In the 
morning he sows his seed." Nor does the good work- 
man say either, " I have not the gifts, or I am not so 
placed as to do great things." You are not too young, 


for you have now a spring and reach and hope which 
are priceless; you are not too old, for yours are the 
soberness and moderation and golden fruits of a soul 
sadly and wisely experienced. And I hold the opinion 
that though we have long lived foolishly, if we have 
suffered and are drawing on to the end, a beautiful 
religion is then peculiarly within our reach, — a reli- 
gion of peculiar submission to God, Great things are 
not demanded of us, perhaps ; but if we do what we 
can, I think that will be great enough. To make the 
most out of the plainest faculties, or to make the most 
out of any ordinary twenty-four hours, — that would be 
a great thing indeed. 

Ah! what a life would it be if we ordered each day 
into some noble system of high work and grateful 
enjoyment; if we had strength to institute a new, a 
truly reasonable and elevated life into the waking 
hours of just one day, and by habit make that day in 
the main a type of all our days! I do not ask of our 
nature anything too high for it. I ask only what any 
man feels he could do if he just made a little effort; 
and that little effort would take him all the way up 
from sin and littleness to "honor and immortality." 

I have been speaking as if all good results grew out 
of strenuous effort to do some outward work ; but I 
must correct that. The best worker is often he, and 
the worst worker is often he, who is busy and active 
and noisy; but the best test of work is time. 

Let the worker be long dead, and silence settled 


down; does the character live? or if not, do immortal 
fruits grow, though no man knows from whence they 
came ? 

Indeed the best is never thought of as work at all ; 
it is in the being something ourselves. In one aspect 
of Christ he seemed all bent up: " My meat and my 
drink is to do his will that sent me." In another 
aspect he seemed a divine child living in beautiful 
repose. His life, in fact, effected very little, nor did 
he seem at all solicitous about effects; he simply was 
beautiful towards God, beautiful towards man; he 
simply was "that holy thing," the Son of God, and 
''committed himself to him that judgeth righteously." 

If any man will be like him, — will live filially and 
trustfully and thoughtfully and unselfishly, — let him 
not be careful and troubled. He has worked the work 
of God, and it will be found that it will bear the fruit 
of God, — at last, far off; I know not how. 

"If you bear fruit, well." Any fruit that is good, 
any fruit that will last. Choose well; and choose 
quickly what you have to do. Work quietly in peace- 
ful trust. Expect hourly failure, and don't take 
failure much to heart; that is, if you sincerely design 
well. This above all, — at every moment drop a cur- 
tain on your discouraging and belittling past, and 
open to yourself the better things before you, turning 
away from the eye and favor of man and looking upon 
him who is invisible. 

When you have done nothing, or when you have 


done that idle work which men often think good work, 
just turn to him and say, " Master, I have wasted thy 
substance;" or when you have done well, turn and 
say, like a child, " Master, accept this work. I thank 
thee if I have done well; make me to do better." So 
the high work of life will go forward, your ear hearing, 
every day, "Well done, good and faithful servant;" 
and every day (not waiting till you reach the distant 
heavens to find it out), every day you will "enter into 
the joy of your Lord." 

"If it bear fruit, well; if not, then thou shalt cut 
it down." 



And they brought unto him also infants^ that he would touch 
them; but when his disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But 
Jesus called them unto hi^n a?id said, Suffer little children to 
cofne unto me, and forbid them not j for of such is the kingdom 
of God. — St. Luke xviii. 15, 16. 

OHORT and simple as this little story is, it has 
*^ sunk down into the heart of the world, and has 
shaped and will yet more shape the spirit and history 
of humanity. Not only is there fixed here the posi- 
tion and importance of one class of beings, little chil- 
dren, but in this narrative, I think, we ascertain the 
inmost spirit of Christ, and through that the inmost 
spirit of God. I think I learn the spirit of my reli- 
gion, the spirit which is at the centre of all things, 
better from this picture of Christ and the little chil- 
dren, better than from any formal examination of 
doctrine or of the laws of God ; and I find that here 
which gives a new spirit to other more doubtful and 
more forbidding aspects of revelation. Let us medi- 
tate on the words of this narrative in the simple order 
in which they occur. "And they brought unto him 
also infants." Sick persons, impotent, the bereaved, 


the possessed of devils were wont to be brought to 
him; the darkest array of the wretchedness and crimes 
of the world was crowded about his steps. But now 
"they brought unto him also infants," — a new sight, 
an innocent and unconscious company of infants. In 
whose heart did such a sweet conception first arise, to 
interrupt the steps of that man of sorrows with such a 
spectacle.^ Mothers they were, I suppose, or fathers 
led by holy instinct, which goes farther and higher 
than thought; led to bring their innocent ones into the 
presence of him whom they felt to be yet more inno- 
cent than they; led by this holy instinct to lay their 
helpless ones on the bosom of his power and mercy. 
The sacred narrator does not say what opinion these 
Jewish mothers and fathers had of Christ, but leaves 
it to the mothers and fathers of all generations and 
countries to feel what their hearts must have said of 
Christ when "they brought unto him also infants, that 
he might touch them." However outcast the Saviour 
was, however hated by reason of prejudice and wicked- 
ness, yet, wherever the human heart was left free to 
its innocent impulses, how instinctively and deeply it 
bowed before him and recognized him ! Wherever 
the humxan heart was pure it saw the Son of God even 
while he walked covered with darkness to all the 
world beside. It may have been a custom as old as 
the world itself; for it springs directly from our 
nature, that blessing and cursing also should be done 
through some species of contact, and as it were by 


physical transmission. "The laying on [of] hands," so 
happily preserved among us in the venerable rite of 
confirmation, is but one form of this same natural 
usage which among the patriarchs and at this moment 
even leads to a touching, and as if transmission of 
blessing, by the hands. 

They brought their infants "that he might touch 
them;" not in the sense of a formal blessing, but that 
the beneficent power might descend upon the innocent 
heads through a vital touch. " But when his disciples 
saw it, they rebuked them." It was beneath his 
dignity to be troubled by children; they were not of 
enough moment to engage the attention of the Mes- 
siah, the Prince, — mistaking what children were, and 
mistaking what Christ was. The feeling of the world 
has always been that strength and intellect — that 
which would give an earthly dominance — is great- 
ness; and that all weakness, specially as was exhibited 
in women and children, was contemptible. The world 
knew not till Christ taught them, " that the weak things 
of the world, yea, and things which are not, should bring 
to naught things which are." It was part of his won- 
derful mission to vindicate the weak and despised, and 
to place the sceptre of dominion in their hands. 

That children should be specially dear to God no 
one till then knew. He saw that "heaven lies about 
us in our infancy;" he saw that to the child was due 
the reverence of the man, not only for its beautiful 
helplessness, or for its sweetness, or ignorance of evil, 


but also, which was peculiar, for its fresh and positive 
possession of the greatest truths possible to our 
spirits, for its new, undimmed faith and reverence 
and trust, — 

"On them those truths do rest 
Which we are toiling all our lives to find." 

Christ knew that these were new and unsoiled spirits 
direct out of heaven, and that manhood, in whose 
heart the world had gradually become set, was but a 
darkening of this divine morning of the child. So he 
turned to the little children as reminding him of his 
own home, and as a relief to his eyes from the hard 
and earthly sights of the men around him. "But 
when his disciples saw it, they rebuked them." Mere 
carnal eyes saw naught but the exterior insignificance 
of these babes, and in the miserable spirit which has 
kept possession of the world from the beginning, they 
cast out the latest born of God. 

"But Jesus called them unto him, and said. Suffer 
little children to come unto me, and forbid them not." 
Observe the eager tenderness of his words, — permit 
little children to come unto me; and then see how 
beautifully the same wish is repeated, — "and forbid 
them not." 

There are two things which strike me most in this 
narrative; the first is the depth of the feeling and 
appreciation of Christ for children. The more I 
reflect on the narrative the more do I feel this. Let 
us try to enter for one moment into the experience 


and position of this man Christ, — for as a man we must 
view him to understand him, — to realize the greatness 
of the projects which filled his soul, and, as far as we 
can, the depth of the affliction of that pure soul in the 
midst of the defiled and malicious beings around him. 
His perfect heart cannot, indeed, be hardened and 
embittered, even by such sorrow and disappointment 
as his, but it can be occupied, harassed, absorbed. 
With such feelings, when he saw this group of chil- 
dren, he seems to have felt the freshness and relief of 
their presence, — as if a cool air had fallen upon a 
fevered face. It seems to me that the eye to see and 
the heart to taste and feel the beauty of childhood 
were in him, under such circumstances, something 
very striking. How wide and deep must that soul 
have been! No cares made him selfish; no intensity 
of purpose, however great and all-commanding, could 
narrow or absorb that heart. He could still consider 
the lily as it grew, and so feel its beauty as to declare 
that Solomon, the splendid ideal of the Jew, even in 
all his pomp, was not arrayed like one of these. He 
could still, though he saw the world around him per- 
ishing in its baseness, though he saw it with an agony 
that made the water drop from him like blood, and 
though he felt himself near to be sacrificed, — he could 
still catch glimpses usually granted only to undis- 
tracted and quiet hearts, could still see deeper than 
human eye ever saw into all quiet and hidden charms. 
One obvious thing strikes me here, and that is, not 


only Christ's instinctive feeling for childhood, but his 
deliberated judgment as to its character. What an 
original, bold declaration was this, "of such is the 
kingdom of God ! " How weak, how insane must it 
have seemed to men whose ideas of greatness were 
like theirs, who expected such a kingdom of God as 
they did! "Of such is the kingdom of God." A 
bolder, more revolutionizing speech is not to be found 
in the records of the world than to declare, at that 
place and time, or indeed in any place or time, that 
the royalty of God was to consist in the hearts of 
children. Unspeakably bold! Undeterred by the 
animal helplessness and all the impotencies of child- 
hood, for the sake of its one unspeakable jewel, its 
new, simple, innocent heart of trust, whose whole life 
is but one breathing, like his own, "Abba, Father," 
he deliberately declared it to be at the height of all 
things and the symbol of his own ineffable kingdom. 
It is easy enough to follow in this sublime strain after 
we have once caught the wonderful secret. 

Most beautifully a great philosophical poet, not 
long dead, has taken up this view; he regards all the 
beauty of our matured life as drawn from the splendid 
wells of early childhood, — 

" For those first affections, 

Those shadowy recollections, 
Which, be they what they may, 
Are yet the fountain light of all our day, 

Uphold us — cherish . . . truths that wake 
To perish never." 


Not only this the poet sings, but that from thence our 
first intimations of immortality are derived, — nay, 
indeed, almost the surmise that the perfect soul the 
child is born with has descended into flesh from a 
freer and purer life before. Listen to the strain 
which, barring this last beautiful fancy, is not un- 
worthy to be heard in the church of Christ. 

" Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting; 
The soul that rises with us, our life's star, 
Hath had elsewhere its setting, 

And Cometh from afar ; 
Not in entire forgetfulness, 
And not in utter nakedness, 
But trailing clouds of glory do we come 
From God, who is our home." 

I do not know that this refined way of conception can 
be understood by all, — but mainly it is but expressive 
of the view which in Judea eighteen hundred years 
ago, that wonderful being, uniting in his words the 
depth of God with the simplicity of a child, expressed 
thus, — "Of such is the kingdom of God." 



/ reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to 
be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. 
For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the 
ynanifestation cf the sons of God. For the creature was made 
subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath 
subjected the same in hope; because the creature itself also 
shall be delivered frojn the bondage of corruption into the 
glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that 
the whole creation groancth and travaileth i?i pain together 
until now. A?id not only they, but ourselves also, which have 
the first-fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within 
ourselves, waiting for the adoptio7i, to wit, the redemption of 
our body. — Rom. viii. 18-23. 

'' I ^HIS passage seems to me like a dazzling glance 
of light shot down into the abyss of mystery 
and sorrow in which we stand. Here, if anywhere in 
the Bible, the ways of God are justified to man, so 
far, at least, as that is useful or even possible; for 
there is, no doubt, something in our condition neces- 
sarily unintelligible to us here and now. But as if it 
were pleasing to the divine mind to leave a dusk or 
shade even upon the light thrown into this great 
secret, we find that these wonderful words, grand, 
exciting, luminous as they promise to be, are still 


under a strange shadow, affectingly reminding us at 
the very moment of revelation that it is ours to trust 
and not to know, — that we are now the sons of God, 
not in knowledge, not in power, not in joy, but in 
sorrow, in hope, in faith. 

It becomes us to pray, therefore, as we enter upon 
such high thoughts as these, that where Thou meanest 
to enlighten, may we be enlightened, and where Thou 
meanest wisely to hide thy secrets, may we remember 
that to submit ourselves and to trust in Thee is our 
wisdom, our grace, our human glory, — an ignorance 
full of knowledge, a darkness which at its centre 
embosoms the dayspring. 

I understand this passage as if the apostle had said : 
Our sufferings are great, but the glory which shall be 
revealed in us, — not a glory put upon us, honors, or 
dignities, or thrones, or the glory of that new heaven 
over our head, or of the new earth on which we shall 
stand, — no; the glory revealed in us, growing out of 
that divine seed of holiness and love now in us, when 
it shall be fully energized by the eternal Spirit who 
has created it and whose it is, — this glory, thus to be 
revealed in us and to expand from us, will be of such 
incomparable sort that all the suffering through 
which, as creatures, — children of the earth, — we are 
struggling, will be as nothing. 

This introduces the proper subject before us, — that 
there shall be revealed in us suffering creatures such 
a glory. 


Just here, in this word " creature," centres the whole 
difficulty of the passage. The word may include the 
whole creation, or all except the spiritual and respon- 
sible soul of man; or it may be so much narrowed as 
to mean only the creature part, or earthly part, of 
Christians; or it may be taken sometimes in one of 
these ways, sometimes in another, in different parts 
of the passage. Now suppose we look at it as mean- 
ing all this universe, including not only Nature but 
the souls of men, good and bad. Then, while it is 
true enough, alas ! that all these are " made subject to 
vanity," yet how can it be said that bad men are made 
subject to vanity unwillingly ? — for the very essence of 
their state is that they are made subject to it willingly. 
Moreover, how can it be said of them that with earn- 
est expectation they wait for deliverance, and wait for 
it through the manifestation of the sons of God? — 
which is the last thing in themselves or others that 
they are waiting for. We dismiss this view, then. 

We will next suppose that the word means merely 
the creature part of Christians as opposed to that 
renewed and divine will from which they are called 
the sons of God. The sense then made is very good, 
for it represents the Christian man as subject to the 
confinement, slavery, corruption of his lower nature 
(and that nature groaning as in travail to extricate 
itself), and looking eagerly forward to the time when, 
the divine part of it issuing out in power, the body 
itself shall share in its glorious freedom. This the 


apostle certainly does mean, and it is his chief mean- 
ing; but it is not the whole, inasmuch as all the 
expressions have a breadth too great for this. 

Not to mention other reasons, we come, then, to 
the only remaining view, — that the creature which is 
in bondage unwillingly, and which eagerly waits for 
its own freedom through the approaching freedom of 
the sons of God, must be first and eminently the crea- 
ture part of the children of God; but must, beyond 
this, include all the creation which is unwillingly 
subjected to vanity, all which groans and labors to 
extricate itself. It will include, therefore, all chil- 
dren of God, whether named Christians or pagans, 
who, according to their light, resent their bondage to 
corruption. But beyond and below this there are the 
large regions of the innocent creation, which are not 
indeed — for they cannot be — made subject to moral 
corruption, but are made subject to vanity in their 
way and measure. The lower creation of animals, 
even the inanimate works of God, subjected as they 
all are to mournful change, and subjected as sensitive 
life everywhere is to pain and misery or death, — these, 
together as with one wail, complain that they are 
unwillingly subjected to vanity; and the whole crea- 
tion seems to lift and stretch out its neck — as the 
word means — to look for the coming of deliverance. 
We reach this view not only from the breadth of the 
expression, but from the suitableness of it to Scrip- 
ture and to moral hope, which should lead us to 
enlarge and not to contract the language. 


The creature, or the creation, then, the whole 
universe, if we exclude the bad will in man, which is 
in no sense a part of the Creator's work, the whole 
material and form and life of this visible house of God, 
waits, looks for the time of deliverance. And when 
is that time? When the manifestation of the sons of 
God — that is, the redeemed heart of man — comes 
forth in power and glory; but why, then, and how, 
shall it be accomplished? The freeing of all seems 
naturally to be joined with the freeing of the human 
spirit, since it was for the discipline and probation of 
that spirit that the universe was made subject to 
vanity. But how? Why, through the workings of 
that Spirit of Christ, which, having first overcome sin 
in the flesh, and made itself perfect through suffering, 
did then — a much inferior work — overcome the law 
of dissolution, and so raised from the grave and re- 
built the body in the likeness and according to the 
power of his Spirit; which eternal Spirit, living now 
in the hearts of the sons of God, shall in due time 
redeem their mortal bodies also, and thence pass into 
the outward creation, recreating all things. 

The manifested sons of God shall, I suppose, by 
the incredible energy of the eternal Spirit working 
through them, transmute their bodies and the world 
itself into an image of the glorious liberty which 
belongs to them. And that these views may not 
startle, recall this one divine sentence of that high 
apostle on whose thoughts I am now dwelling: "If 


the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead 
dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead 
shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit 
that dwelleth in you." No oracle of God ever spake 
more profoundly out of the hidden depths of fact; no 
mortal eye ever sent its glance more deeply towards 
the centre. The resurrection from the dust of the 
earth is made to issue from this Spirit which dwelleth 
in our spirits, and of course worketh through them. 

We have, then, the general meaning of this divine 
passage: that, though in common with all the creation 
we suffer now, an immense apocalypse, a coming forth 
of glory is to take place in us, — a " manifestation of the 
sons of God;" sons before, but their nearness and 
likeness to God perfected, inconceivably enlarged, 
manifested, exposed, so that forward to this all the 
creation looks, especially that part of it so mysteri- 
ously blended in the nature of man, our suffering 
earthly nature, groaning and travailing in pain. It. 
looks eagerly forward to some redemption; but only 
under Christian light does it learn to fix its eye on the 
moment and the way, " the manifestation of the sons 
of God," when the objects for which the creation is 
subjected to vanity will have ceased, and the sons of 
God coming forth shall, through the creating Spirit, 
build anew the temple of the body, and another morn- 
ing of creating power shall cast a new life and splen- 
dor through and over the whole innocent creation. 

Let us confine our attention now to the thought that 


"the creature," the creation, "was made subject to 
vanity; not willingly, but by reason of him who hath 
subjected the same in hope." Do we not see, as a 
matter of fact, that all the creation is made subject 
to vanity, or emptiness, — made as if in vain? The 
frame of the world itself, with all its splendors, — is 
not that made subject to vanity, emptiness? From 
the flower to the star, all things emerge and pass, 
come and go; a great dramatic show, mimicking 
reality but not reality itself. Then there stands 
above this first world the great world of animated 
forms, organized life; and here to the law of change 
comes in a darker law of death, — the creatures appear 
like visions of living things, and as in a moment 
vanish with a groan. He who brought them forth 
changes their countenances and sends them away. 
All these ranges of creatures, had they a voice, would 
say that they were made subject to vanity, but against 
their will. A sad constraint, silent, but vast and 
inevitable, is put upon them all; and so, beneath all 
the joy which reigns through these present kingdoms 
of God, there runs, deeper than all, a groan. 

But come to man; here is a subjection to vanity 
infinitely more sad. I shall not speak of those who 
sink their souls down to the level of the vanity of 
nature, and so present the incredible sight of immor- 
tals who willingly make themselves subject to vanity. 
Of these the apostle speaks not at all, but leaves them 
in the most awful silence. In this great proclamation 


of universal redemption I do not find them included 
or even named, — passed by as the husbandman passes 
the chaff in the gathering in of the wheat. The whole 
creation is called to hope, and I would there were a 
way to include all living souls; but willing subjects 
to vanity must, it seems, perish with vanity, and pass 
away with the idols to which, by a spiritual sensuality, 
they have already linked themselves. 

Leaving these, alas! it will be sad enough to speak 
of the men who have begun to be sons of God, holding 
a spark, at least, of this better life; for they also, 
with Nature, are made subject to vanity, but not will- 
ingly. They find a law in their members warring 
against the law of their minds, the bondage of corrup- 
tion rising from sense, or from their condition as 
inhabiting a world of vanity, and with natures in a 
thousand respects inferior to and acting against that 
divine will in them which makes them "sons of God." 
Such a state subjects to trial, to sorrow, to corruption, 
their better and redeemed hearts. Imprison an angel, 
a most pure angel, in a body, and in a state of fear, 
and errors, and ppllutions, and piercing sorrows, and 
you will know what this wonderful fact is of the sons 
of God made subject to vanity, not willingly. 

Now conceive all this scene of unwilling subjection 
to vanity in sky and earth and animal and man, if we 
were left without a reason for it. But the creature 
was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by rea- 
son of him who hath subjected the same in hope. The 


whole creation stands built, then, on hope. It is 
allowed for a season, while the Creator resolves upon 
and looks out for, and prepares better things for his 
creatures, and things which can be produced only by 
means of that very subjection to vanity through which 
they are now passing. Joy! — in hope. We know 
not the periods of God; but all things laboring and 
travailing in anguish shall bring forth the new crea- 
tion, all things are at the first and unhappy stage of 
a great process. Patience, then ! ye creatures of God. 
Sympathize in the hope of God, and live as if beyond 
these light afflictions, which are but for a moment! 

For the promise is that the creation itself also, — 
even the creation of body and world, which are but 
handmaids to the spirits, — even these shall not be 
suffered to pass away under the shadow that has lain 
on them; even these "shall be delivered from the 
bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the 
children of God." So as to these heavens and this 
earth themselves; their grave is appointed, and the 
morning of their resurrection. The dumb suffering 
of all creatures shall be redressed; for "hear, O 
heavens," no voice or look of pain is unmarked of 
God, and no shadow of the sadness which rests upon 
the great face of Nature shall be suffered to last ; but 
forthcoming at the head of the sons of God shall be 
the first-born Son, the Beloved, he on whose head are 
many crowns; and at the vision of his redeeming face 
purity shall be shed through all the soil of Nature, and 



the new heavens and earth rise up to reflect in color, 
in form, in power, the splendor of his countenance. 
And he shall stand and say, " Behold, I create all 
things new." 

Suffering child and heir of God, suffering in afflic- 
tions, in temptations, fightings without, fears within, 
God hath indeed subjected you to vanity, not will- 
ingly, but in hope. Lift up your head. This weak 
heart shall soon bear in it the name and strength of 
God; this perishing body shall be made like unto his 
own glorious body. You shall forget sorrow; you 
shall breathe in love and peace, in worship and obedi- 
ence; you shall run and fly in divine impulses and 
errands; through every faculty of body, soul, and 
spirit you shall "drink of the river of his pleasures," 
because the promise is that altogether, no part of you 
lost, you shall be delivered from the bondage of cor- 
ruption into the glorious liberty of the children of 



Who also hath made lis able ministers of the A'ew Testament^ not 
of the letter but of the spirit; for the letter killeth, but the 
spirit giveth life. — 2 CoR. iii. 6. 

A MONG the mistakes now committed are these 
■^^' two. The Church errs on the side of the 
letter; many thinking men err on the side of the 
spirit. First, as to the general error of the Church 
in the slavishly literal interpretation of revelation. 
Of this some stupendous instances present themselves 
at once. The throne of Saint Peter is founded on a 
single figurative sentence; the sacrifice of the Eucha- 
rist and the mysterious virtue and powers of the 
priesthood are all built on one metaphor; and what a 
building it is, vast, and reaching towards heaven, and 
the end of its dominion is not yet! At all this the 
Protestant grieves or smiles; but a Protestant can be 
an equal slave to the letter, when, for example, it 
pledges revelation to a supernatural accuracy for 
every word and every fact; when it makes a single 
text, perhaps foolishly construed, a lord of the con- 
science. But not to speak of such wild cases, con- 
sider this. The general feeling of the Church is that 


New Testament precepts give the precise rule of con- 
duct to man forever. But, in fact, that is the religious 
pedantry on which, as it was found among the Jews, 
the Lord pours out his indignation. For theirs was 
a religion of small rules, which had lost sight of all 
the spirit on which the rules and petty usages were 
founded. Can we think he wished to repeat the same 
thing under his divine sanction.? to set up a Chinese 
lesson which a Chinese church was to copy.? The 
spirit of the Lord is freedom. He shows us himself; 
he gives us the sight of the spirit of sonship toward 
God, the sight of calm but wide and trustful and self- 
sacrificing fraternity to man. He shows us this, to 
be sure, through particular facts of his conduct and 
words, — just as we learn the beauty of a picture 
through minute lines and tones of color. But when 
we reach up to his spirit and get that, when we have 
Christ's principles, we are no longer bound to the 
letter of his words, but have found the secret which 
interprets them. He was never so pained by his dis- 
ciples as when he found them "slow of heart," taking 
the letter of his words and mistaking his real feelings. 
"O fools, and slow of heart," — "ye know not what 
manner of spirit ye are of." If he, the Prince of 
Peace, figuratively commanded them to get swords, 
yea, "to sell their garments and buy them," they say 
at once, "Lord, here are two swords," so that he has 
to say, " it is enough ; " and so in many places. But 
when that promised Spirit reached them they made no 


such mistakes as this. Then when they remembered 
his words they understood them and loved them, and 
if they were applicable, they used them; but if change 
of circumstances gave a precept a larger scope, they 
gave it the larger scope according to his Spirit which 
was in their hearts. 

A father of a family drops many useful words 
among his children fit for the circumstances of the 
day, and after he has gone and left them, his children, 
who knew his spirit, face^ and ways, will remember his 
words and understand them according to his spirit ; 
and if the times be changed since he died, they will 
know how to apply his words to suit new facts, still 
retaining his spirit, and so often giving a better 
expression to it. Just so should we, the children of 
the Lord. He taught us, for example, to relieve the 
poor, to visit the sick; we will try to do so, just in 
the old way, but also, perhaps, in better ways than 
were then known in the world; and instead of adher- 
ing to the letter, as many Protestants do, and as is 
done in all Roman Catholic countries, — instead of 
doing just that thing, even when it may be found to 
be a pernicious thing, and instead of limiting our- 
selves to the old forms of kindness, if we find out new 
and better, if we work to prevent poverty and disease 
rather than to cure, if we adopt all new styles of pre- 
vention as well as remedy, and strive in such ways to 
make society a more wise and benevolent mother to 
her unfortunate children, — this we know will be a 


charity on which the Divine Lord will look with joy, 
"deliberately pleased; " and thus will be fulfilled the 
word that he spake when about to leave the world, 
"The things that I do shall ye do also, and greater 
things than these shall ye do." 

I said that some have now come to err on the 
opposite extreme, — namely, on the side of the spirit. 
That fine body of people, the Friends, perhaps are at 
fault in this. I say, perhaps, for I admire so much 
their theory of the power of the pure heart, or the 
doctrine of the Spirit; I admire so much their deep 
sense of the comparative inferiority of the external 
and formal, their sense of the slavery of being under 
a thousand men and precepts, and their passionate 
devotion to one great truth, — namely, that the very 
Spirit of God and his Christ inhabits and guides each 
Christian man, and will guide them into all truth, all 
necessary truth, — I admire this so much that I must 
be tolerant of the fact that they have reacted violently 
from the undue ecclesiasticism and from besotted 
bigotry to the letter, and have fallen out of the due 
centre. In their just reverence for the light of the 
spirit within them they have forgotten, I think, the 
due reverence for the light which is the *'word," and 
the light which is the Church. But there are others 
of a very different class. There are just now many 
thinking men and high leaders of thought, who, not 
content with casting off the Jerusalem which is in 
bondage, have ended in casting off the Jerusalem 


which is free, and have become discontented with any 
master, even Christ. Yet who is that master with 
whom they are discontented? A Being has entered 
into the world, and his powerful image passes through 
history; he is a Being fairer than the sons of men and 
stained with his own blood. 

Whatever be the darkness, whether it be of the Jew 
or barbarian, — whether it be the peculiar darkness of 
a Greek or Roman civilization, or of modern ages, — 
whatever be the darkness and need of every human 
heart, that Being seems to be the natural light 
and remedy of the world, its natural Saviour and 
Redeemer. I know that conceit and ignorance and 
feebleness and narrowness mark the best spirits, — 
that we need a divine instructor. The soul needs, in 
the depths of its weakness and fault, assurances of 
mercy, pledges of forgiveness, and hope, and encour- 
agement, and all the pawers of the world to come; all 
this is in Jesus Christ. Every one, I think sees it, 
who has sat long enough at his feet, and tried his 
spirit, and begun to sacrifice self as he did, and 
caught the charm of his living. Yet, still the en- 
lightened man I speak of does not want him; he has 
light and strength enough; he has passed beyond the 
letter of all outside authority, even of an historic 
Christ, and rests upon his own soul. The culture of 
the day more and more tends to depend merely upon 
the soul, and not upon any outward leaders of the 
soul, — nay, not even a personal God, — but only to 


some great, senseless Pantheistic thing. This may 
seem all right to advanced thinking; but of one thing 
I am sure, — that it is at the expense and loss of the 
value of man, of the soul. Just as necessary as the 
outward world and the world of society are to the 
development of man, so necessary is the possession 
or the belief of a suitable outward moral world to our 
souls. For how can the highest feelings of approval 
and love be called out, unless we know some highest 
object of approval and love? There could be no such 
thing as common duty, unless the duty is felt to some 
one who ought to have it. How, then, can there be 
religion, which is the highest worship, gratitude, affec- 
tion, and obedience, — how can there be this, unless to 
some person, to a real, personal God ? A vague awe 
and obedience may indeed be felt to law and force; a 
reverence to the inevitable, an awe before the vast All ; 
but even these vague feelings are not felt without first 
exalting law and force into a vague personality. Much 
less can be felt that gratitude, affection, and de- 
votion which belonged to John or Paul, and which 
nothing but a person, and the heart and love of a per- 
son, can excite. The heart must have a heart to 
worship, or its religious affections must die in dark- 
ness and cold, as the vegetation of the earth without 
a sun. Where there is no real God, there is no real 
religious soul. 

But suppose the man of thought has not gone so far 
as to give up his God; does a personal but unseen 


and impassive God meet all his want? Would a 
Being who is not only grand and divine, but divine 
through suffering, whose love acts through blood and 
sorrow, the divine manifest in humility and in the 
bitterness of sacrifice, manifest through strong crying 
and tears; is this not to make God more near, to give 
us more a God, more a person, more a heart? is not 
this vto be touched where the invisible, distant, un- 
imaginable Godhead could not touch us? Have we no 
want of such a Being ? Who has such a soul that he 
does not need this divinely human leader? However 
noble and pure our life is, without Christ we have lost 
soul. We may be able to spare much of what is 
called Christianity, we may be able to spare it all, 
though with deep injury; but Christ, the human heart 
can never spare. Omit from history that Being, and 
the race falls back again, even, I fear, from the knowl- 
edge of God. Not at once, for his remembrance would 
long be a power in the human heart; and when even 
his remembrance had perished, the daylight he had 
created would still last long after the sun had set. 
But sooner or later, Christ gone, our humanity must 

Christ is the Power of God for right living. Any 
man whose heart is drawn to such an object, and sees 
so clearly the pure and divine, is so charmed by it, is 
so possessed by it, that lower things move him less 
and less, and the power of that object rises higher and 
higher, until it quite overcomes the world. The love 


of beauty in the poet, the love of truth in the thinker, 
may master something of a man's lower self; but 
these are trifles to the power of Christ on the spirit 
that follows him. As it is true in belief, so it is true 
in life: "if the Son makes you free, you shall be free 
indeed." For an illustration of these views I will 
refer to the chiefest of the apostles, — to the apostle 
Paul, the "ablest minister of the New Testament. " 
What made him such.? The fact that there was a just 
proportion in his soul of the spirit and the letter. 
Always obedient to the commands of authority, 
whether without him or within him, yet he knew how 
to subordinate the one to the other. His whole 
career is a history of that. "Wherefore, O King 
Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly 
vision:" obedient all through to every indication of 
the truth and duty coming from without ; but every- 
where subordinating the detail to the principle, the 
form to the heart of the matter, the transitory to the 
permanent. Do the great apostles, the authorities at 
Jerusalem, superstitiously cling to the old commands, 
saying they are directly from God, and asking how 
can they be done away? Paul, in the strength of 
that spirit which prefers moral rules to rules of form, 
the inside to the outside, in the strength of the 
spirit of Christ, which wished to break out from 
Jewry to all mankind, — Paul will not be impeded 
even by sacred commands, for he hears commands 
far more sacred; and so he cries, "Down with the 


walls of partition, in Christ there is neither Jew nor 

But why speak of Paul ? A greater than Paul is 
here. Who renounced Moses and the law as he did? 
Yet, so that at the same moment that he abolished 
them he called it fulfilling them. But he did abolish 
them ; he swept them and the temple itself away by 
the breath of his mouth. " Neither in this mountain," 
he said, "nor yet at Jerusalem, shall men worship the 
Father. God is a spirit." 

There is the Magna Charta of the Gospel of Liberty. 
Amid the growing infidelity of the world, and the 
formal spirit of the Church, the impregnable defence 
and life of Christainity is in the spiritual interpreta- 
tion of the Bible, there and nowhere else. That place 
of defence is a munition of rocks. Oh, when shall we 
all learn that "the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth 
life;" and when shall the clergy learn that to be able 
ministers of the New Testament, they must be minis- 
ters of the spirit, and not of the letter? 


Those who by reason of use have the senses exercised to discern 
both good and evil. — Heb. v, 14. 

A LL men are conscious of a good and an evil in 
-^~^ their hearts. There is something higher and 
lower, a shameful thing and an honorable thing, to 
the poorest savage. And these two great ideas, two 
great laws, are not only necessary to, but the funda- 
mental character of man as human. As men advance, 
their sense of these things improves, and improvement 
in this sense, call it what w^e will, — the honorable, 
the moral, or the spiritual sense, — gives to civiliza- 
tion its very heart and character. With the Greeks it 
rose to a fine consciousness of a beautiful and harmo- 
nious soul; with the Romans, to a profound con- 
sciousness of w^hat a man ought to do, — specially 
what he owed to country or the civil rights of men. 
With the Jews it rose to the idea of sin and right, 
which are specially the sense of what a man owes to 
God. Christianity took up the Greek, the Roman, and, 
above all, the Jewish consciousness, and said with them, 
"I ought," but said it more deeply and widely; and 
added, "I would," — that is, added a love to a deeper 
duty, and added it in singular power, because that love 


was now directed towards more inspiring and awaken- 
ing objects; towards the whole race of men, on the one 
side, and on the other, towards a more Divine God, 
towards the one redeeming as well as creating God, — 
even the Father. " By reason of use the senses exer- 
cised " have come to "discern " and know high things. 
This is Christianity; and as our age and nation are 
called Christian, we take for granted that this high 
discernment belongs to us. 

But this Christian knowledge of good and evil is so 
high and hard to reach that it stands, even to-day, as 
a sort of esoteric or secret attainment reached by a 
few, while all outside that, and the body of so-called 
Christian people, remain of a conscience quite diffe- 
rent, quite dark, — made up, in fact, of classic and 
Jewish elements, or some fashionable, moral points 
of the day, tinctured or more deeply imbued with cer- 
tain Christian senses. Moreover, among us, not only 
is the consciousness of good and evil general, but the 
conscience of good and evil we do possess is in no 
small degree made up miscellaneously of incoherent 
and sometimes inconsistent points of feeling, — such 
as the conscience of honor among gentlemen; the pro- 
fessional points of honor in the professions; the 
conscience of commerce and business, — that is, the 
conscience of an industrial age; the conscience of 
the points of honor in the two sexes, which are alike 
in some things and different in others. We foolishly 
imagine that there is but one right and wrong; but 


each sex, and every class and almost every person, has 
some distinct points of difference. Here, then, in 
our present society, which is called Christian, there 
are two general moral states existing; on the one hand, 
the high Christian conscience of good and evil, and 
on the other hand, that heterogeneous and inferior mix- 
ture which makes up the actual moral condition of 
most men in society. On the one hand, the creed of 
society is, that there are certain points of feeling and 
conduct which I disapprove of, which are against the 
common interests and against my sympathies; there 
are certain other points which I feel to be beautiful, 
and good, and noble. With no reference to principles 
or system, men have just grown up at random, in 
certain moral likes and dislikes. On the other hand, 
the creed of morals of the Christian man is this. He 
says, "In the midst, and before me, stands the great, 
pure, merciful God and his redeeming Christ ; to that 
Divine Will I owe all and will render all. I will 
render to him the obedience of gratitude and love, and 
the worship of a hearttelt interest in all human crea- 
tures." Now this is a creed of vast principles, from 
which an endless and consistent world of right feel- 
ings, acts, and rules comes out ; and in these principles 
a spirit resides, which animates with a divine life and 
powers the whole world of details. Without these 
principles the sun has left the heavens, and nothing 
remains but a confused scattering of half darkened 
stars through a cloudy sky. I would propose, then, 


that Christian society raise itself to actual Chris- 
tianity, at least in theory; and that it leave its low 
and half false moral life, and begin to discern that 
grand life which is above it. And this is to be done, 
as all moral and other advance is made, when by " rea- 
son of use we have the senses exercised to discern 
both good and evil." 

By habitual effort in the exercise of our "senses," 
using and strengthening our moral discernment, by 
the effort to open the inner eye, it gradually opens to 
good and evil. All worlds, all spirits, grow through 
use, through inward effort. Call it mere law in case 
of dead matter; call it instinct in animals; call it 
moral sense in man ; every faculty grows in life and in 
discernment by use. The Bible generally speaks of 
this enlarging and illuminating the human spirit as 
the work of the Divine Spirit. And so it is always; 
but it is most important that the Bible should also 
speak of it as the work of the soul itself; both which 
truths are reconciled in other places by this, — that 
God co-works with us. 

But if the human side of this were not here stated, 
most people would feel that religion in the soul is all 
superstition, — as they do even now, in the face even 
of such scientific words as those of the text. First, 
then, our souls must grow in discernment by the exer- 
cise of our moral sense or perception. As the tongue 
tastes food, or the ear appreciates sound, or the eye 
color; or as the taste for natural beauty tastes its 


objects, so the moral taste, if used, will grow; and if we 
look more deeply, the sense of good and evil will expand 
magically, and we will be able authoritatively to know 
whether the high creed of Christianity is the true and 
beautiful creed for man. By simply living with good 
pictures, by the unconscious exercise of the reason 
and taste upon them, the eye becomes an instructed 
eye. If a man keeps looking at the classic marbles 
in Florence and Rome for six months, and then passes 
back through France and sees French statues, they 
will meet him with a shock of pain; they are merely 
pretentious, romantic, and sensational. Suppose the 
sun were created under an eclipse, and suppose, in- 
stead of shedding off its darkness in a few hours, it 
kept on doing its best at shining all through its long 
sun-ages, until at last it was quite clear; and you will 
have a picture of the soul born dark, but through 
years, by reason of use, by exercising itself in truth, 
grown at last clear all through its splendid circle. 
Thus, we must come into the light by the use and 
exercise of other senses. 

Many people object to Christianity because their 
idea of the truth has been mixed with or made up of 
low intellectual tastes and feelings as to God. But 
the mass of minds even yet are abused by a thousand 
intellectual prejudices. There Christ stands in 
strange form, speaking a strange language, and they 
have never penetrated into the meaning; there reli- 
gion stands, often covered over with foolish concep- 


tions and with the grotesque features of half-barbarous 
ageSj — the fanaticisms of the fanatic, the corruptions 
of the corrupt, — from which Christianity and the in- 
tellectual man start back. In order to a full discern- 
ment of the truth of Christian ideas, the whole soul 
must be exercised through ages, — through its various 
tastes; through its philosophies; through its science; 
through the things which seem against it, until all the 
lights of the man are bent in one focus, and the image 
at its centre is Christ. 

I come back to the chief thing, — that moral light 
comes through exercising the moral heart in the dis- 
cerning of good and evil. Perhaps this is best illus- 
trated by the natural eye. The child at first knows 
nothing of the world through its eyes but patches and 
blotches of color, which seem to be part of itself. 
By the constant education of every waking moment, it 
comes to distinguish the vast world as outside of it 
and around it. And in the same way, a mere living 
on the earth forces us to use, and at least to a certain 
degree to train, the moral eye, until it comes to know 
the things of the spirit of God. Through action, 
through the will working towards good, does the eye 
awake to the sight of good. The organ is one thing 
and the power another. 

Our first parents, in their fall, came suddenly by a 
shock to a sense of good through evil. Use of some 
sort, the sudden result of a moral act, or the slow 
intercourse with moral things, — " use" it is, in one way 



or another, which "gives a precious seeing to the 
eye." I call it precious, for the world was built to 
educate the moral eye. Civilizations rise and fall to 
carry on the education of the moral eye; and no man 
knows where or how high the enlargement of the 
soul's vision is to go, what things it will see. There 
are epochs when it so expands that it is as if God 
appeared, and said once more, " Let there be light. " 
All that revelation gives us comes, indeed, from the 
most high Spirit of God; yet, at the same time, it 
comes in the way of an enlargement of some man's 
vision. I see around me the poor animals, who are 
below us, exercising their limited senses to the utmost, 
only to maintain life and ward off danger. All the 
faculties of the robin I watch from my window are in 
constant vivid use to do two things, — to get food, 
and to guard from danger. But privileged above all 
beings are we in this, — that every act of duty, every 
effort to know the truth, not only sustains our life, 
but is an enlargement of our faculty, a finer touch, 
a stronger will. 

From this subject we learn several things. First, 
the wonderful possibility of expansion or evolution of 
this part of human nature in all men. I know the 
vast differences of soul; I know that a delicate sense 
and discrimination is born with some, while bluntness 
of feeling and literal blindness of eyes is born with 
others. But the moral soul of all has a greater possi- 
bility of development than the other powers. It is a 


special subject of gratitude to the Being who has 
made such differences among his creatures, that in the 
highest and eternal part of man a comparative equality- 
is found. All are capable of laying hold on eternal 
life, which never could be done unless through a 
highly endowed moral nature. None but a few can 
be men of genius ; but every man not wanting feels it 
within his choice to be in some degree an apostle. 
Moreover, this spiritual gift, which is intended for all, 
can be educated; but in such peculiar ways that no 
man can certainly say whether the moral education of 
the poor, forgotten man, is not better fit for him than 
the education of the highest. 

Again. We learn here how humble most men 
should be in moral things, and how reverential they 
should be to others. There always have been in the 
world men who, "by reason of use, have the senses 
exercised to discern good and evil;" and as this is 
a department where advances seem almost without 
bounds, with what deference and reverence should the 
mass of men who decline all moral training look up to 
the men who are really men of God ! This considera- 
tion also leads us to the truest ground of authority 
for the Church. It has other grounds of authority, 
no doubt, but its truest are that with all its lowness 
it contains the spirits of the world most susceptible to 
good, and most conversant with good. This spirit is 
more largely in the Church than elsewhere; and so, if 
there were no other reason, there is a decided prefer- 


ence in behalf of the Church's teachings; where it 
leads, the common soul can safely follow. In art, all 
intelligent people say, " I don't see the singular 
merit of Michael Angelo where you see it; but I am 
one of the unlearned, and defer to the trained eye of 
the artist." There is the same reason for the same 
modesty in matters of the conscience. If a man has 
merely enough vision to see two roads in different 
directions, he may as well go in the one as in the 
other. But if his eye discover to him wet verdure and 
crystal waters along the side of that road, and sweet 
vistas and glimpses of angelic figures through the tall 
trees, while along this road he sees a desert> and the 
flight of vultures, and the teeth of hyenas ; which way, 
think you, will he go.^ It is want of vision that is the 
matter with us. Let us study the New Testament 
and read these Gospels in a way to make us feel and 
think over every page, and so, by reason of "use," our 
senses will be exercised to discern both good and 



Wherefore be ye not unwise^ but understanding what the will of 
the Lord is. And be not drunk with wine wherein is excess^ 
but be filled with the Spirit. — Eph. v. 17-18. 

'T^HIS first sentence is a beautiful and profound 
one: "Wherefore be ye not unwise but under- 
standing." Paul seems to think that "wisdom" con- 
sists in one thing, — " understanding what the will of 
the Lord is." And, in fact, if it is wisdom of a cer- 
tain sort to know what the will of the Lord is in the 
motion of a planet, or in all the laws of nature and 
society, if to know truth (that is, the way the Lord 
has settled things), to know this even in the small and 
perishable sphere of the world, — if this is wisdom, then, 
of course, to know his will as to our relations to him- 
self, to know those laws of the immortal heart out of 
which are the issues of life, that is wisdom indeed. 
"Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what 
the will of the Lord is, and be not drunk with wine 
wherein is excess." But what connection have these 
two sentences? The connection is this. 

These crude Christians at Ephesus were in large 
part old Pagans baptized, and with all the old vices so 


wrought in that they had no conscience at all about 
many evil things. They were full of enthusiasm as 
to Christ, but Christian morals as now known were a 
slow growth. The great and simple moral law of 
Christianity was this : " Let every one that nameth the 
name of Christ depart from iniquity." But obvious 
as this seems to us, with whom religion and right 
doing are very closely united, it was not at all obvious 
to many of them, with whom religion had very little 
to do with right conduct. The old gods were not 
moral. Still the purity of Christ, this new and holy 
God who was sacrificed for sin, no doubt forced the 
heart gradually away from sin. I say "gradually," as 
it took time for these men living from birth under 
corrupt usages to get a conscience. Their consciences 
were not, as we say, perverted ; they had no con- 
science. So — astonishing fact it is — we see them in. 
the highest exaltation of Christian faith, — full of 
love to Christ, ready for death, courting it ; and yet, 
often in point of practice what we should call con- 
scienceless people. And Paul himself, with his high 
doctrines of justification by faith and abrogation of 
law, found to his horror that many understood all this 
to allow easy and careless living. Now, seeing this 
distinctly explains the singular contradiction all 
through the chapter. For example, Paul is writing to 
people whom he calls "saints;" and giving them the 
most tender advice, as if he were speaking to pure and 
heavenly children, — for such in heart and purpose 


they really were : " Be ye therefore followers of God 
as dear children, and walk in love as Christ also hath 
loved us;" but do not continue these gross habits. 
This is not the way to be a Christian. "Prove what 
is acceptable unto the Lord." Prove, —that is, bring 
these practices to the test of the purity of Christ, to 
the test of your new Christian feelings; see if they 
are acceptable to him. Go all round the circle of 
your old life, testing everything. "Be circumspect," 

— not fools, but carefully carrying the new light down 
into the dark usages of society, applying the new rule 
of Christ to everything. It is a long time before this 
can be done by the mass of men. Convert a Hindoo 
or a Chinese to Christianity to-day, and it will be a 
long time ere, if ever, he can be made to feel genu- 
inely that those things which Hindoo mothers and 
fathers and friends, and the law and usage and priests 
all allow or approve, can be wrong. A light like a 
torch had come down into the world of the first cen- 
tury, — it had come as if into a very wide and very 
dark cavern. It did not come into the cavern like a 
sun, to light it up at once; but it was rather a candle 
or a torch, which a man must hold carefully before 
him and cast its light just before his feet as he walked, 
and musjt hold it up to the roof and explore and prove, 
to get a sight of the place he is in. To get this done, 

— to apply the Christian torch to the whole of the 
dark vaults in a man's life and heart, — to do this, we 
see Paul laboring in all his Epistles, but especially in 


those to the Corinthians, — laboring often sadly and 
with a heart half broken. And in this chapter, after 
repeating and repeating, he ends by repeating again, 
"Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding 
what the will of the Lord is. And be not drunk with 
wine, wherein is excess." You see the connection. 
"Be ye not unwise," but understanding the will of 
Christ. Don't be taking for granted you know every- 
thing. Find out the will of God; find out the spirit of 
Christ; and give up this vice and that vice and the 
other vice, which are all against it. Find out, under- 
stand the will of the Lord, and don't be drunken, and 
don't be sensual, and so on. So now we, in the 
nineteenth century of the Christain era, are in a much 
better state, no doubt. But to say that the torch has 
been carried all round the cavern of the human heart 
and human life, is to say too much. Our ideas are 
not yet half Christianized. Our approval of right 
things, our disapproval of wrong things, is poorly done 
yet. There are pet virtues, — such as liberality with 
money, or a soft-hearted humanity, or not saying any- 
thing against anybody. These we think a great deal 
of. There are some vices which are heartily and per- 
haps extravagantly condemned ; but the right estima- 
tion is not reached yet. We judge everything by the 
light of common opinion, and do not carry it to the 
standard of Christ. And although it is true that 
public opinion carries much Christian light, it is still 
full, not only of the darkness of the ages behind, but 


of the dark which is always breathed out of the human 
heart. I look into one circle of life, for example; I 
find their code of honor, — that is not the code of 
Christ. I look at that greatest division of the race, — 
the division into men and women; I observe the moral 
law of women, what it is they really admire, and what 
they feel bound by. Then I observe the same law in 
men; what they admire and feel bound by. To us, 
then, the advice is not yet antiquated. *' Be ye not 
unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord 
is." And now I reach the next sentence: "And be 
not drunk with wine wherein is excess. Drunken- 
ness, I have said, was another of the dark things as to 
which many early Christians did not understand the 
will of the Lord. Drunken Christians, who thought 
themselves all right, was another of the anomalies of 
the time. And how does Paul correct it } He first 
tells them simply it is an excess — " wherein is excess. " 
It is an intemperance. Not the use of the grape of the 
vine, one of the most rich and benign of the natural 
growths and gifts of God ; not the use of that, no, — 
only immoderateness. Everything in its degree, in 
its tone, to its purpose, is the great rule. 

But as his smile is over his creatures who enjoy his 
kindness with thanks and in measure, so at once, the 
limit transgressed, that smile blackens into threat and 
penalty. " For boundless intemperance nature is a 
tyranny," here and in all else; a tyranny, — a selfish 
and devilish passion rooting itself in a diseased and 


erring body, and overmastering and putting under foot 
whatever is human in the man, — and all that is dear 
to him, — God, or wife, or child, or honor. But Saint 
Paul does not dwell on the long list of horrors which 
follow intemperance; he just says, with a sort of 
solemn brevity, "it is excess," — as if that simple 
word meant so much to him, laid open such a world of 
transgression and sorrow- But the advice must not be 
confined to drunkenness; it is, in its general force, 
this, — Come away from all the drunkenness of the 
world, from its intoxicated excitement, to pure excite- 
ments, — to the excitements of the aspiring and gene- 
rous and attached heart, to the excitements which were 
in Christ, whose drink it was to do the will of God. 
Here, then, is the second correction of the drunken- 
ness of the world, — namely, by substituting for it the 
high enthusiasm of the spirit. We say of a man, he is 
intoxicated with prosperity; we say of certain women 
that they are intoxicated with admiration, with dress, 
with gayety. We speak of the infatuation of money- 
making and money-hoarding, and so on, as to people 
carried off their feet by any or by all the delusions of 
life. Now that which all see is true as to a few, sober 
people, moderate people, see to be true as to the mass. 
A truly sober man, who believes in immortality and 
a God, — nay, who believes in no more than death, 
who simply knows the fact that we are to die, and 
soon; who is sobered by it, and gets a sober measure 
of all things from it, — to this man the great world 


must seem in an unwholesome fervor, a fever, a 

And now as to the apostle's remedy for this great — 
shall I say universal — world-vice. Other remedies 
and corrections there may be, — a sad experience of 
life, a violated duty, a near death, a solemn judgment, 
a lost life, perhaps a lost immortality; reasons enough. 
But the apostle's remedy is none of these; it is this, 
— Be ''filled with the Spirit." Under this word, "the 
Spirit," is included all higher forms of inspiring spirit 
by whatever names they are known, — all that high 
temper which shone in the face of Christ and made 
him the beauty and glory of the world; the peace, the 
blessed hope of favor wdth God, and of a heritage of 
life undefiled and undying. He means all that; he 
means our unselfish, humane, and pitiful feelings for 
man, and our trust and adoration to God; he means 
not only all our realized consciousness of the highest 
things, but whatever in supreme moments we see 
above our heads and catch by glimpse, just as we see 
the blue heavens through the tops of the thick trees, 
or just as we see a streak of delicate orange in the 
west, and the flash of a whole sunset after darkness 
and storm, — all this, and what besides "no eye hath 
seen." All this is the Spirit, — he means all this; 
and his command is, instead of low excitements be 
filled with the excitements of this Spirit! He would 
withdraw the earthly excitement, but more than fill 
its place with the heavenly; he does not ask us to be 


cheerless and dead, but to be living transcendently. 
"Be filled with the Spirit, singing and making melody 
in your heart!" That is a powerful offset to the low 
excitements of life. Indulge in and be filled with the 
religion of joy, — such as music and song. It is a 
plain recognition of the lower side of religion, where 
it touches upon the body and mingles with fine sensi- 
bilities. We cannot be pure spirit; we cannot be 
creatures of mere abstinences, mere duty and mere 
struggle. God loves joy where it is not vice. We 
need to bring in every innocent aid and enjoyment. 
Of course all excitements need watching; but the 
Christian Church has suspected and watched those 
religious pleasures until they have disappeared, and 
left the Church quite dry and dead. Our high and 
hard religious intelligence, on the one hand, has ban- 
ished from the Church its delightful awe and mystery. 
And on the other hand, our polished sense of decorum 
has banished what I may call the banqueting spirit 
of human nature. Our religion is oriental by origin, 
but we in the cold west have dropped its fine excite- 
ments. We must remember that our religion at first 
had its day of Pentecost, and many such days, — when 
men seemed to be filled with new wine. Of course it 
would be stark madness to repeat the excitements of 
those times; of course the religion of different cul- 
ture, of different climates, must be different. The 
religion of George Washington and the religion of the 
missionary, Henry Martyn, must differ. Still the 


element of pleasure and of joyous excitement is de- 
manded by man as man; and nowadays there is not 
the slightest fear of any excess on our part. If I were 
to predict a religion to come hereafter, it would be 
Christianity indeed; but Christianity raised out of 
deadness or false glooms to a higher power of joy, — 
in a higher sense, singing and full of song; to whose 
celebrations we would come with delight, and of which 
we could genuinely say: "A day in thy courts is better 
than a thousand. " " I was glad when they said unto 
me, let us go into the house of the Lord." "How 
lovely are thy tabernacles, Jehovah of Hosts! My 
soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the 



What doth it pro/it^ my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, 
a?id have fiot works ? Can faith save him ? — St. James ii. 14. 

OAINT JAMES thus begins his discussion of the 
^ nature of faith and works. Eighteen centuries 
and a half have passed since then, yet men are still 
discussing this subject; and to the minds of many 
much obscurity still rests upon it. Saint Paul stands 
on the one side, representing the doctrine of justifica- 
tion by faith alone, while Saint James is arrayed on 
the other as in some sense the supporter of works 
also, as necessary to justification. Many who think 
at certain times that they have found clear notions on 
the subject, become at other times unsettled and con- 
fused as to it; because, in fact, they never have been 
steadily clear in their ideas. It is necessary, there- 
fore, to speak of it, for its importance is such that we 
should permit no darkness in our minds regarding it. 
This is not like many of the discussions which have 
occupied the world, — on mere abstractions, or on some- 
thing far removed " from the business and bosoms of 
men;" it is practical and vital to the last degree, 
and an error on the one hand or the other will incvit- 


ably vitiate life and practice. I can easily imagine 
that the very words "faith and works" have to many 
something distasteful. But however indiscreetly this 
subject may have been handled, and though it may 
appear a mere theological topic, yet no subject can in 
itself be grander if we estimate its grandeur by its 
intrinsic importance. 

One meaning of faith is an assent of the under- 
standing. Brutus slew Julius Caesar in the Capitol. 
One called the Messiah was born in Bethlehem of 
Judea in the days of Herod, and was crucified on the 
hill Calvary, under permission of Pontius Pilate. A 
mere assent to such things on grounds of reason is 
one sort of faith, or, as it should rather be called, 
belief. The other meaning of the word is not a mere 
assent of the mind, but a trustful love of the heart. Two 
men believe that Jesus Christ lived, and that the say- 
ings they read in Luke and John were actually spoken 
by him. Both believe this; but one goes further and 
loves this Being, and trusts to what he says because he 
loves him. The mind of the one assents, the heart of 
the other is moved. Here is the difference. 

Now as to works; that word has two meanings. 
The first use of the word, and the one which is very 
common with the Apostle Paul, is where he usually 
contrasts it with faith, in which use it is equivalent 
to what he sometimes calls the "works of the law," 
"dead works; " and in this use of it he means actions 
done out of any other motive than that loving trust of 


heart which I have called true faith. Saint Paul 
taught that we are justified before God by faith only. 
Saint James says : " Ye see, then, how that by works 
a man is justified, and not by faith only. " There there 
does seem a direct contradiction; and it has seemed so 
strong to many that they have not known what to do 
with it. Luther, as we know, and others of the 
Reformers, were so pressed by it that they rejected 
this Epistle of James entirely, — said that it was not 
Scripture^ and could not be. But it is Scripture, and 
a most worthy portion of Scripture. That illustrious 
man, to whom we are all indebted much more than we 
are aware, was mistaken here and rash. I will en- 
deavor to state the truth. Paul taught that faith alone 
justified; by this he meant, of course, that works 
could not justify. This is obviously true of that class 
of works which proceeds from an inferior motive, and 
not from love, — ** dead works. " But as to real good 
works, he did not mean to contrast faith with them at 
all; because, what is a good work but faith itself in 
action.^ What is good in an act but the state of mind 
one has in it, — the loving, trustful, obedient spirit 
in it.-* There can be no real contrast between the one 
and the other. Faith itself is a great spiritual act 
towards God and towards Christ ; and every instance 
of the works of faith or good works is essentially the 
same spiritual act lived out in the world. All the 
good in faith is a good work, and all the good in a 
good work is faith. I repeat, then, that one of 


these essentially contains both, and that they can 
never be contrasted. Faith is a deep, loving, trusting 
abandonment of the heart to its beloved Saviour, — 
such a disposition as would infallibly produce good 
works whenever the occasion would arise, but which, 
should the occasion never arise, should the man die 
the moment after he felt its blessed birth in his soul, 
would alone justify before God, inasmuch as it con- 
tained in itself the very essence, the spirit, the foun- 
tain of all holy living. 

Ask yourselves, ye who underrate good works, is 
not faith in practice just as good faith as when it 
remained a feeling only? Should we say that faith 
belonged to ourselves any less when we were working 
from its power than when we were sitting still in 
possession of it? 

The apostle, then, meant not to draw any contrast 
between faith and faithful works, inasmuch as they 
are but different forms of the same thing. And so 
he was accurately just when he said that faith alone 
justified us; because he meant by faith the spirit of 
love and trust in Christ, whether it was found in feeling 
and willingness, or in motive and act. Faith, whether 
it works outwardly or not, is complete in itself. Faith 
is the source; charity, works, the whole Christian life, 
are but the stream from it. It is quite childish to 
talk of true faith being imperfect without charity or 
works. Saint James meant no such faith when he was 
speaking of the necessity of adding works. When we 



speak of true faith, to assert that it is imperfect with- 
out works is just as foolish as if we should say that a 
fire, however bright and strong, is imperfect without 
heat, or that the sun, however cloudless, was imperfect 
without beams. The faith alone, then, of Saint Paul 
was no fanaticism. If this, then, be this apostle's 
meaning. Saint James could not conflict with it; for 
although Saint James asserts that "a man is justified 
by works, and not by faith only," he meant by faith 
here and all through this discussion something entirely 
different from Saint Paul's faith, for he says that the 
devils possessed it. He calls it also a ''dead faith." 
A faith which could be without works is unquestion- 
ably what I have called belief, — a mere concurring 
of the mind in the truth. This is the spurious faith 
he challenges and tests (as well he might) by this 
great test, — Does it produce good works "> if not, it 
cannot save. ** Shew me thy faith without thy works, 
and I will shew thee my faith by my works. " Here 
are the two. According to Saint James, faith which 
acted was the justifying faith, and according to Saint 
Paul, living faith alone was the justifying faith. Now, 
as I have shown that the living faith of Saint Paul and 
the acting faith of Saint James are essentially identi- 
cal, then these apostles (who have been arrayed against 
each other for ages) were, in fact, but asserting identi- 
cal propositions, or the same thing. The only differ- 
ence, then, between these two apostles (and I cannot 
too often repeat it) is that Paul includes works in his 


idea of true faith, and Saint James includes faith in 
his idea of true works. 

Now it was not merely fortuitous or useless that 
these two apostles should thus view the same thing 
from opposite sides; if we look at the circumstances 
of these two apostles we shall find special need of 
these two views. Paul was the great apostle of faith ; 
he was called to place himself in opposition to the old 
Jewish system of works and ceremonies, substituting 
in lieu of it all faith in a crucified Saviour. This 
arraying of faith only, as against dead works or mere 
legal obedience, was constantly forced upon him on 
account of the Judaizing tendency of the time, — the 
tendency to revive the old usages of the law, and to 
make a merit of obeying them. The great and blessed 
truth of the one mediator between God and man, the 
one atoning sacrifice through whom only, by a union 
with him of faith and love, we have life, — this, which 
is the very soul of Christianity, threatened constantly 
to be borne down, or at least obscured by the Jewish 
legal feeling. To rescue these truths, and to present 
faith in the Lamb of God as the only justification of 
man, caused Paul to speak vividly and constantly of 
it. Now from this it became rumored in some parts 
of the Church, especially in Judea, that he slighted 
not only the old works, but a holy life, — in his 
theory, I mean. This rumor was confirmed by the 
fact that some of the followers of Paul had perverted 
his meaning so as to permit themselves in loose 


courses. This abuse soon became widely spread 
even in the lifetime of the apostles, and shows clearly 
how open Paul was to misinterpretation on this point. 
Luther was placed in respect to the Roman Church in 
essentially the same position in which Paul was in 
respect to the Jewish. Luther, animated by the same 
spirit as Paul, and breasting the religion of mere out- 
ward works, which had become the religion of Rome, 
vindicated in the same heroic way the great doctrine 
of faith only, not stopping to modify it. "Perish the 
law, flourish grace," he used to say in his fine, strong 
language, — language which, however, like Paul's was 
abused. And the result was, that in his day, just as 
in Saint Paul's, a reaction took place to the contrary 
extreme; and the wildest, fiercest sects which ever 
disgraced Christianity arose in Germany, trampling 
on all law, divine and human, and asserting the doc- 
trine (monstrous abuse!) of faith alone. It seems 
probable that James, who was head of the Church at 
Jerusalem, had credited this rumor in part, and feared 
that Paul did lean to an extreme here. I say this 
seems probable, and has been suggested by some of 
those best acquainted with that time, and with the 
true spirit of the New Testament writings. Such, for 
instance, as the late Dr. Thomas Arnold, a man who 
(having named him) I take the liberty to say stands 
foremost in late days for the union of the highest 
intelligence and liberality with a solid, unperverted 
faith, — for a union of the most affectionate and 


humble with a noble and free Christian spirit. It 
seems probable, I say, that Saint James may have in 
part feared the truth of this rumor as to Paul (preach- 
ing and acting as they did at great distances from 
each other; and at a period when mere rumor, and not 
the press, conveyed intelligence), and that this part 
of his epistle was written with a reference to it. If 
so, we can easily see why Saint James places so 
powerful an emphasis on works as the inseparable 
effect and test of true faith; and records so indignant 
a warning against that baleful counterfeit of it which 
proposed *to live a Christian without a Christian life. 
Saint Paul, on the one hand, proclaiming faith only 
against the Jewish spirit of works, and Saint James 
proclaiming works, — faithful doing, against a fruit- 
less, lifeless belief. Here, then, is an account of this 
matter, which I said at the beginning was of the ut- 
most practical importance. Look at Paul; preaching 
always faith. And how did he exemplify it himself.? 
Not by the faith of contemplation only, but by the 
faith of good works. When he faced the danger of 
the seas or the dangers of ^tyrants for his Saviour's 
sake, was not the faith of all that as justifying before 
God as when, at first sight of Christ, he lay upon the 
earth trembling and astonished, and believed, saying, 
" Lord, what wilt thou have me to do.? " It is but one 
and the same state of heart. 

The Antinomians said, "There is no longer any 
such thing as good works; I am bound by no law, for 


I have faith." For the spirit of faith has no force or 
obligation laid upon it from without, but itself is the 
fulfilling of the law, and the fountain of all law; for 
the spirit of Christ is a free obedience to all holiness. 
The Antinomian mistake is that of making faith to be no 
more than what I call belief; and then all the glorious 
privileges which Saint Paul ascribes to faith, they 
ascribe to a mere belief, and so get rid of the whole 
burden of a holy life. On the other hand, the Pela- 
gians said that a mere doing well, though it spring 
not of an Evangelical faith, is salvation. These sects 
do not now exist by name, but all these opinions are 
founded in the human heart. And every main heresy 
since the world began is repeated constantly, and all 
false sects have their representatives in some of our 
hearts. Have we not found in ourselves, or seen in 
others, a tendency to elevate what is called mere 
morality into the place of religion.^ To substitute 
honest or benevolent acts, for instance, performed out 
of merely humane or more mixed and questionable 
motives, for the whole of substantial religion, for the 
whole faith of Christ } 

Indeed, is this not one of the most striking charac- 
teristics of the time? Now this is but a form of 
Pelagianism, annulling not only the Scripture teach- 
ing, but all the higher powers of the soul, — its faith, 
its love. Do not many of us, so we keep honest and 
respectable, and somewhat charitable, think we are 
quite safe in forgetting those unintelligible matters of 


faith and salvation in Christ? those high things men 
nowadays call not practical? Why, here is the very 
soul and centre of all good practice. All remedy for 
evil must begin within, and the deepest, the most 
fundamental principle of the mind from which it can 
proceed is faith. "He that believeth shall be saved." 



I have fi7iished my course. — 2 Tlm. iv. 7. 

nPHESE are Paul's words. He recognized the fact 
that he had a course, — that is, that he was in 
the world, and commissioned to do some distinct and 
peculiar thing; he saw what he was to do, and felt a 
divine command. If ever there was a man who had 
ends and purposes, who lived to the point, it was he; 
and this he shared with all the great servants of God. 
John the Baptist was as fine an example as Paul; he 
had his course. "John fulfilled his course." 

Now living in subjection to some distant purpose, 
even though it be a purpose of self-interest, is a higher 
life than is lived by those persons who simply exist. 
But it is far higher still to live for the ends man 
was created for; to feel and act as if we were not born 
to be butterflies, — not born to be intelligent schemers, 
but to live for what is highest. This much certainly 
we know to be the ordained career of each. Let no 
man say Abram and Moses and Paul had a course 
more sacredly ordained than mine. Not at all; the 
call is in each heart to "go up higher." But there is 
something beyond this; God has intended each of us 


for a personal and peculiar career; "there are diversi- 
ties of gifts." Each spirit is created a peculiar thing, 
and so fitted to a peculiar career. Now each man is 
bound to recognize this peculiarity. For some reason 
or other we do not ; but are always imposing, and if 
possible forcing the model of ourselves, or some 
general model of what is best, on ourselves and on 
all people. The thought of the world is, there is but 
one good, and you must be that, or you are nothing at 
all. I call attention to the fact that men are different; 
obviously so as to body, mind, heart. But people 
deny this in respect of holiness; they see one law, and 
they think there must be one sort of obedience to it. 
Let us not forget the pages of the Bible, where same- 
ness is unknown. How vast the difference of Matthew 
and John and James and Paul ! The recognition of 
this simple fact would have saved most of the bloody 
persecutions, most of the hatred of sects, most of the 
calumnies and tyrannies of religious opinion. The 
recognition of this would have allowed souls to grow 
up natively. Religious life would have been made 
sweet and easy and various, where it has been formal, 
unnatural and forbidding; and souls by myriads saved, 
where they have been spoiled and wasted. But some 
will ask, How can I know " my course } " If you mean 
how you may know the best way for you to live a 
divine life, I answer, to live it in that way which 
seems most sweet and natural to you. Enter this 
sacred world through that aperture which is open to 


you, through any good feeling, and live in it as you 
find you best can. There is a pleasant and holy path 
beginning at your feet; if you are really sincere before 
God, trust your own heart and follow; "Make straight 
paths for your feet." 

I think of each man as in himself something more 
momentous than I know how to speak of. Each life, as 
it is lived through, how great a passage upwards or 
downwards! It seems to pass away and leave no 
record. A few circles of the sun, and there will be 
even no friend who has ever remembered we were. 
But, believe me, our biography is written; its records 
are now in progress, engraved by the steel on the 
everlasting rock; written in the depths of our own 
eternally living soul; written in the destiny of all 
souls, as valuable and lasting as ours; written in the 
memory of God! Yes, we are important; our little 
vanities give our little destinies a false importance; 
but I would that we recognized our real and enormous 

There is a life-plan made by God, and we are left 
to fill it out, — co-workers with God in our own crea- 
tion, "working out our own salvation." I know of no 
power which can lift man out of the rut of sense but 
one, — the living appreciation of certain superior 
facts, — the fact of God, Creator, Redeemer; the fact 
that I have a lasting soul which has a plan and a 
career, and which I am under endless responsibilities 
not to frustrate; that there is a spirit near and acces- 


sible to man, commissioned to aid him. Such facts I 
must become aware of; they must touch the quick of 
the soul, or all else is talk. These facts are called 
by the apostle "the powers of the invisible world." 
I must feel them or I am nothing; it is the living 
sense of them, and that only, which can lift me. I 
may have a sort of fear, and go to work like a drudge, 
doing a few hard labors; but these so-called good 
works are but flowers scattered on the surface of the 
ground, drying and soon dead, as compared with those 
other flowers which blossom out of great roots lying 
deep in the heart, — I mean, blossoming out from heart- 
feelings towards things unseen; out of the sense of 
God; out of appreciation of Christ; out of a sense of 
my own needs, and of the boundless mercy which aids 
me. There is only one great difference between men 
(and what a difference it is !), — the difference of the 
men who know two worlds, and those who know only 
one. This is the whole secret difference of saints and 
sinners; of the sacred history of one man, and the pro- 
fane history of another. " Enoch walked with God." 
"Noah was warned of God, of things not seen as yet" 
Abram heard and " obeyed, and went out, not knowing 
whither he went," and in the land to which he came, 
his own land, chose to dwell in tents, looking for a 
city. And Moses forsook Egypt, not fearing the 
wrath of the king. Why.' " He endured as seeing him 
who is invisible." So through the whole list, down 
to Paul, down to some poor woman in back streets. 


who, in the starving winter, having but a little meal, 
takes an unsparing handful for some one poorer still, 
and then sits by her poor fire, "and builds her hope 
in heaven." I say, the source of all control in this 
world lies in the fact that a man sees higher facts, and 
lives in their presence. Then no might is equal to 
his might; "he subdues kingdoms, works righteous- 
ness, obtains promises, stops the mouths of lions, 
quenches the violence of fire, and out of weakness is 
made strong." The greatest boast ever made was 
that of one who said, "I can do all things." Foolish 
boaster! No, but true; his soul felt the power, the 
unlimited strength of an invisible fact, — Christ. 

So in this " course" of ours, who can do anything 
but he who first sees something.? If our eyes were 
open, vigor would thrill through every nerve. With- 
out this, the whole matter is simply an impossibility. 
Who is he that overcometh, but he that believeth, he 
that sees feelingly, — that is, has a perception of, an 
affection for, and a trust in things not earthly.? Look 
at the course of Paul. Mean in appearance, with some 
bodily disease perhaps; cast out and hated by the 
whole intense Jewish nation, "going about and lying 
in wait to kill him ; " cast out and hated at first by the 
new Church, and always suspected and thwarted and 
calumniated by many Christians; passing through the 
world in preternatural self-sacrifice, — in perils of 
robbers, in perils by his own countrymen; scourged 
and beaten, and, though the highest man of the race 


at that moment, "an angel, having the everlasting 
Gospel in his hand; " the man who wrote the deepest, 
highest, divinest poem ever written (I mean the 
chapter on charity); the man with the heart of a 
mother, and the soul of an unspeakable hero, beating 
at one moment in the same bosom; the man w^ho said, 
"I am dead, and Christ only is alive," "I count not 
mine own life dear unto myself;" the man (I might 
speak of him forever), — but this man, in the face of 
himself, of earth, and the gates of hell, went through, 
established this moral world we now live in, and 
though dying step by step, behold he lived! Why? 
Because the facts of the eternal world were flashed 
through on his career; fear awed him, because "love 
constrained." At the end of his days, he wrote, "I 
have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I 
have kept the faith; henceforth there is laid up for 
me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the 
righteous Judge, shall give me at that day; and not 
to me only, but unto all them also that love his 
appearing. " 



He that is surety for a stranger shall stnart for it ; and he that 
hateth suretyship is sure. — Proverbs xi. 15. 

^ I ^PIESE are maxims of prudence. Som.e persons 
^ represent the Book of Proverbs as a book of 
such prudence; it is not so What is this book? As 
to form, it is with some exceptions (as, for instance, 
the sublime descriptions of wisdom in the first part) 
a large collection of proverbs ; much larger than any 
known to me as the product of one nation. But this 
is mainly the book of one man, the large part being 
published by Solomon himself, and a small part trans- 
scribed by the men of Hezekiah. The last chapter 
but one is the word of Agur, the son of Jakeh ; and as 
the book begins with the words of a father to a son, 
so it beautifully closes with the words of a mother to 
her son: "The words of King Lemuel, the prophecy 
that his mother taught him," — a lesson of chastity, 
temperance, compassion; ending with a simple but 
unrivalled picture of a true woman and a true wife. 
The Solomon proverbs have this in common with all 
proverbs, that they are the homely pith of every-day 
wisdom. They differ perhaps in three things: Their 


form is generally regular, and is a species of the 
antithetical form of Jewish poetry, — I mean couplets 
of sentences, the second being in opposition or 
difference. Then as to substance, there is a sweeping 
religious or scientific classification of two sorts of 
persons, — the good and bad, or the wise and foolish; 
and the book is a series of comments upon them. The 
third difference, I find, is that the book is a long list 
of frowns and smiles, of blessings and pains, dis- 
tributed in detail upon the two great classes of people; 
and not distributed merely as a fact of experience, 
but often as direct from God; thus bringing into the 
book not merely the absolute Hebrew faith in the 
great moral government of the world, but some direct 
sense of divine authority in the writers. Proverbs of 
all nations are just shrewd observations on men and 
things; but this book is all that, made with a constant 
look to the issue, the result, and specially the reli- 
gious result. While it is thoroughly worldly wise, it 
is the worldly wisdom of an enlightened religious 
soul ; and if any one chooses to regard this as a collec- 
tion of the proverbs of the Jewish people, I should be 
still more struck by them in this view, than as the 
proverbs of the great and instructed king; because 
then, for the first time in the history of the world, we 
would see the sight of a pure religion really ingrained 
in the whole feelings of a nation, and issuing sponta- 
neously in its spontaneous literature. To realize this, 
compare the moral and religious feeling of this book 


with the proverbs or ordinary literature of any other 
people. Here it appears everywhere, just as naturally 
as humor or insight or learning appear in any other 

In this point the book needs to be vindicated. We 
can easily find faults where we seek them. So there 
are very pleasant pieces of malice, very pleasant 
remarks as to the worldly character of the Book of 
Proverbs; and those who most acknowledge the awful 
holiness of the other books speak of this book in the 
canon as if it were the intrusion of a shrewd Jewish 
trader in the disguise of a priest, into the temple of 
the Lord. But the fact is that religion brings within 
its scale of notes a range from the little judiciousness 
of the hour, up to Christlikeness; it cares for the 
whole range of man's concerns. But in earlier times, 
when men had something of the recklessness and 
wildness of youth, to give the power of religion to 
worldly prudence, nay, to make prudence a more 
prominent part of religion itself, accords with the 
education we give the individual at the same period. 
So the Bible lays a foundation for religion in the 
habits of every-day self-denial, restraint, self-respect; 
curbing the eager, selfish, savage man, while at the 
same time it addresses his higher nature. Moreover, 
although this book is mainly a book of prudent 
maxims, it is not, generally, a worldly prudence that 
we find here, but a religious prudence; for there 
are all grades of prudence, from the point where pru- 


dence is scarcely more than a keenly selfish caution, 
up to the point where it blends in itself the sublimest 
faith and self-denial. The book of Proverbs contains 
the wisest advices for worldly success; such as the 
sentences I have used in the text : " He becometh poor 
that dealeth with a slack hand; but the hand of the 
diligent maketh rich." "He that is surety for a 
stranger shall smart for it; and he that hateth surety- 
ship is sure." 

Nothing can well seem wider from the Christian 
tone than the snug caution of this last sentence. It 
seems to express a spirit just the unlike of Jesus 
Christ, whom if we were thus to describe, it would 
be, "He was willing to be surety for the stranger 
though he did suffer for it; he offered himself in 
suretyship, yet he was found sure." I mean that by 
yielding all of his own pity, even for the bankrupt, he 
found all. A wide enough contrast ! But in the face of 
the discord I assert the hidden harmony. Perhaps 
even in so generous a character as that of Paul, and 
in his unworldly circumstances, but certainly in the 
every-day character and conflicting business of the 
world, however brotherly in soul a Christian man 
may be, his brotherliness would be mere weakness, 
and a quick destruction not only to himself but to all 
his power for benefit to others, were he not to "hate 
suretyship;" and to keep a keen watchfulness over 
every interest. Yet through all this justice and 
honorableness and caution, a generous, forbearing spirit 



will run, if he be a Christian man, even in that which 
is the most selfish side of his life, — his business; 
while outside of that he rises to what heights he will. 
Two men enter their counting-rooms, the business 
spirit in both hearts, both bristling with business 
sagacity. But that is all of one; it is only the lower 
part of the other, while from the higher part come 
oozing down feelings which correct, moderate, liber- 
alize, elevate the whole work. So he effects a super- 
natural transfiguration of that grasping, or at least 
competitive life into which the necessities of our 
world bring us; and he does it, not by omitting the 
Book of Proverbs, as the enthusiast would do, nor by 
omitting the New Testament, as the gross and greedy 
would do, but by carrying the higher part of the Book 
of Proverbs into the lower parts, and above all, by 
elevating the whole spirit of the Proverbs by the 
spirit of Christ. 

So much as to the book. But this leads me to speak 
of prudence in general. I have lately depreciated 
prudence, because there is a self-complacent resting in 
it when we should go up higher. Though a prudent 
community, we are not not half enough prudent; in 
no one interest is prudence well enough practised. 
Enlightened self-denial and vigorous care of health, 
the precious life, the precious means of healthy feel- 
ing, thinking, working; we are yet barbarians as to 
this. In all the sides of our life, how little foresight, 
attention to experience; how little steady reference 

A WISE P 7^0 VERB. 243 

to the results which are a few years off! or with the 
mass, a positive inability to reject one spark of sensa- 
tion now, even to seize at a work's end a gem which 
will sparkle forever. Prudence is an appreciation of 
the future; and it grows nobler as the future is larger 
and nobler, which it appreciates. So when I think 
that most of us have not force enough to live outside 
of the view of to-day, and are so besotted with the 
hour, that we habitually betray the next hour, the next 
day, the next year, and the great next year; I then 
feel that people who preach and write about sublime 
Christian virtues altogether overshoot the mark. 
Let us go back and lay the simple foundations of 
common sense, and be equal to our rank as earth-men, 
before we aspire to the angelic or Christian style. I 
look around ; how wasted most of us are, for lack of 
common prudence; how wasted the world is! So we 
see, though we speak against prudence where it is 
substituted for something which is its better; we do 
not moderate its value, and its present need. And let 
us understand it, for it has the greatest varieties; and 
the preacher is often apt to be misunderstood, because 
the word covers such different things. A man is pru- 
dent who economizes his money even where there is 
a suffering object before him ; the man is prudent 
who, without violating the customs of trade or injur- 
ing his own credit, greedily comes in before another, 
and takes always the lion's share. On the other side, 
a man is prudent who appreciates the fact of his 


immortality and controls his life in time; or, in a 
higher style, the man is prudent who sacrifices all 
interests for that highest interest, — a pure soul. All 
these are prudences; yet you see one foot of the scale 
touches and enters heaven, while the other rests in 
the earth. The chief circumstances on which the 
elevation or inferiority of this virtue depends are 
these, — nearness or remoteness in our ends; whether 
we are, or are not, in rivalship with others in the good 
we seek, for that brings in a separate element of 
selfish power, antagonistic; then the openness and 
keenness of that rivalry. Above all, one sort of pru- 
dence differs from another according to the nature of 
the good we seek, more or less gross, more or less 
fleeting, or pure and lasting. Just in proportion as 
prudence rises to distant objects and pure objects, 
though these be sought for self (and so is liable to 
the charge that all this prudence is but a form of self- 
interest), yet, while I am not concerned that such 
divine ambition should be called interesting, I must 
add that such prudence, which lives to gain pure and 
invisible objects for self, always rises even above that 
temper; and, so soon as it can appreciate the distant 
and pure as to risk all for it, will love it, and seek it 
for its own sake, and rise to the godlikeness of a 
holiness which forgets self even in its purest and sub- 
limest form. 

I have made these distinctions for two reasons 
among many: first, that when we hear prudence con- 


demned from the pulpit, it is a prudence which can 
make a man respectable and honored in our times, and 
which he is thus tempted to think ample for all the 
purposes of humanity. Remember that this is among 
the lowest styles of the virtue possible to man; and 
that it is condemned, not because there is not a good 
even in it, but because of its exaggerated value, and 
because it fills the whole horizon of duty to the man's 
eye, and so stunts his growth, and amid all his gran- 
deur his soul perishes. Did his heart once acknowl- 
edge God in the laws of self-interest which govern 
him, or did his foresight look but a little further for- 
ward to death and eternity, then what a deep-cut dis- 
tinction would take place in his sort of prudence, 
which, instead of satisfying him with himself, would 
dissatisfy him ! 

Another reason for all these distinctions, I hear 
some of our most enlightened men scoff at the class 
of motives drawn from heaven and hell, as mere pru- 
dence and destructive of religion. What are heaven 
and hell? I take them to be essentially, the one, the 
temper of Christ in me, as it may become enlarged 
and accomplished in the invisible world ; the other, an 
anti-Christ temper in me, as it may become enlarged 
and accomplished there; these, and what natural issues 
or fruitage come out of these, I take to be my heaven 
or hell. 

Prudence is but another name for divine aversions 
for the worst, and divine ambitions for the noblest 


objects; but to tell man he is above the great future 
God has pointed out to him; to tell this to a race, the 
highest of whom is ready to tremble before visible 
law, but will have no dread of the invisible, — that 
fear is unworthy of him! I know that the fears of 
prudence are less worthy than its hopes; but to tell a 
race which seeks eagerly the visible and gross rewards, 
that it is above the invisible and spiritual and spot- 
less; to tell men they have got beyond this, when I 
see no man whose life is not marked through with 
discreditable shocks, no man high enough to live 
steadily in his youth for his manhood, in his manhood 
for his age! This prudence is not below us. There 
is but one higher wish than this I could wish for my- 
self, for any other one, the most reverently admired 
of all my race, of any race 'that is or can be, — that 
the Spirit stand high enough to measure its future, 
and so adore the pure destiny in it, and so fear with 
awe the impure destiny in it, as with holy choice to 
adopt and abandon itself to its supreme interest. 


My son^ despise not the chastening of the Lord; fieither be weary 
of his correction : for whom the Lord loveth he correcteth ; 
even as a father the son m whom he delighteth. — Prov. 
iii. II, 12. 

' I ^HIS seems like a paternal whisper m a nousehold 
^ for the encouragement of an uninformed child, 
and to dry the hot tears upon its cheek. " It will be 
well, my child. " And these words, and some others 
like them, have been whispered through the air for 
a thousand years; a trickling down from the great 
fountains of compassion, falling as dews into the sad 
night of human sorrow, the very sound healing and 
blessing, and where truly understood, making a sort 
of heavenly change in the spirit, and turning prisons 
into illuminated palaces; and the man who felt him- 
self alone and unbefriended in an alien place, where 
every face turned hard towards him, and he, stumbling 
forward on dark mountains, puzzled with life, embit- 
tered with it, with no real God left him, bereaved of 
all of earth, and only flat despair or mere endurance 
left, — such a man, now a sepulchre where an angel 
might descend and weep, and which seemed closed 
and sealed forever, suddenly turned into a resurrection 


tomb, simply because some such word as this was 
spoken; should I not say because in these tones, "my 
son," a presence of God came overshadowing in pity 
the spirit of the creature he has made, — " Aly son, 
whom the Lord loveth he correcteth, even as a father 
the son in whom he delighteth. " How medicinal the 
tones and thoughts of this book of sympathies, the 
Bible, specially for the diseases which have no other 
cure! Once heard, the homeless heart is suddenly at 
home again; everything rights itself; the old house, 
to be sure, is down, but a new one builds itself as "a 
city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker 
is God." 

When a man really thinks of the millions of hearts 
which filled the earth long ago, or which fill whole 
regions now, where God's words are not heard, and 
who have not even the consolations of a philosophy, 
but take the blow and reel into their dark graves, what 
an unspeakable gift is given to us among whom the 
true light now shineth ? I know that the degradation 
of the heathen leaves him insusceptible of much 
suffering, that the deeps of suffering and consolation 
open together in the divine training of a man as 
Christian; but so far as a diminution of sorrow is 
purchased by degradation of the species, it calls for a 
pity deeper and more solemn still. And so, in any 
view, thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift, which 
creates deeper affections and a higher nature, and 
when through this vaster tribulations enter, gives us 


consolation vaster still, and sets up our feet on high, 
even on the heights of his holy hill. 

It was ever accounted one of the wise recipes for 
grief to make light of it in some sense. " Don't think 
it much, and it isn't much; new thoughts, new 
scenes will drive it away." Now it is true where any 
trouble has passed in part out of moral treatment it 
must be treated as physical disease. But it is mon- 
strous to let this be the normal and ordinary treatment 
of trouble. It is not a thing to be forgotten or swept 
away; to regard it as a blind chance fallen in your 
way and to be put out of it — that is to underrate it, 

Why, what view of God must men have when He 
will allow a thing of such infinite cost to come as a 
chance.'* Why, if affliction be the light thing many 
strive to make it, we are of all men most miserable, 
for then the God over us is something we cannot 
understand, and we are driven out of the world by 
an evil which has in it no meaning, and no hope of 
elevating us. 

My son, make not thus light of God's chatisements, 
interpreting them in so mean a way; for this is 
blaspheming God, and your own nature as a son of 
God. You are a child that has wandered far, and 
the Father hath sent solemn messengers to bring you 
home; you do them wrong, being so majestical, to 
treat them lightly. 

But if the frivolous soul will deny and make a blank 


of all that is deepest in its own nature, and live a life 
escaped out of all that region of solemn warning and 
reproving, and will turn the corner of and shut out all 
this scene of unspeakable heart-moving significance, 
— if it will, it can despise the chastenings of the 
Lord, and make out of the deep human soul a mere 
insane frivolity, — call it business, or amusement, or 

But a man need not positively seek to forget and 
trifle with God's discipline. It is substantially to do 
a despite to these deep and costly experiences merely 
to let them pass unused, or to be so lost in the sorrow 
as to forget the hand of God, or to sink despairingly 
under our blows. I know and feel, and would give 
the widest and tenderest allowance to, the inexpres- 
sible heart-breaks of men and women; but I cannot 
forget that the only true healing of the heart is when 
it hears through all the voice of God, and comes 
humbly and softly nearer to the voice, and asks that 
he will have mercy, and not lay upon us more than 
we can bear, but will bring us into deep and sweet 
obedience to his will, and will make us meet for that 
inheritance whither we trust our beloved have gone 
before, and where we will everlastingly rejoice that 
he hath afflicted us, and brought us out of great tribu- 
lation to sit down in the seats of everlasting peace, — 

" The rueful conflict, the heart riven with vain endeavor, 
And memory of earth's bitter leaven, effaced forever." 

What more can be said to much-tried man to per- 


suade him not to despise the chastening of the Lord, 
and not to be weary of his correction, than just to say 
in his ear these tender and holy words: "My son, 
these terrible facts are chastisements and corrections; 
despise them not nor faint at them, for whom the Lord 
loveth he correcteth (sets right with sorrow), even as 
a father the son in whom he delighteth. " 


What is 7nati, that thou shouldest magnify him ? and that thou 
shouldest set thine heart upon him ? — Job vii. 1 7. 

I< N ancient man of profound experience expresses 
-^^ in the midst of trouble his wonder that God 
should make so much of such a being as man. "I 
see," he says, "that I am an inferior creature, yet I 
see that God's power and solicitude are busy about 
me." This is its meaning, though it breaks out 
strangely in the midst of the boldest expostulations, 
and expresses the undertone of his consciousness that 
all this dreadful trial was but the outside look of a 
noble moral treatment. 

Let man's powers be what they may, — in action 
like an angel, in apprehension like a god, — if they 
come forth to decline as a shadow, to pass as a wind, 
the value, the rank of the being is but small. He is 
at the best but the beauty of the world, the paragon 
of animals, the tallest, fairest flower in the perishing 
garden of the earth. What avail the mightiest lights 
burning within us if they are to be extinguished as a 
torch lighted one hour for a festival.^ 

Here, then, was one of the profoundest perplexities 


of this wonderful man, and one common in some meas- 
ure to him with the whole of the ancient world. Wc 
are scarcely able to reproduce the state, for with us the 
greatness of man's nature is established; the great 
thoughts of Christ overshadow all of us; a sense of 
the dignity and duration of man is inwrought even 
into the souls that have never exercised one act of 
distinct faith. All things are new. 

In this perplexity Job might have said, as almost 
every creature would have said, " Clearly I am nothing, 
and this feeling that the Almighty is occupied with 
me, — that he has set his heart upon me and is trying 
me every moment, — is all delusion." Or it would 
have been proper for him to conclude, from the high 
demeanor which God showed toward him, that he was 
not what he seemed, — a creature of a moment. But 
to settle himself in such a conviction was too high a 
thing for a man then; for sense so pressed her dread- 
ful demonstration of his mortality upon him, and 
there was no other clear light to lead him, that he 
could not rise to the height of the thought that he was 
never to die, and to all the other unbounded thoughts 
which go with that. So he stood, lost in amazement, 
sometimes driven that way, sometimes this, but never 
losing, even against all, his confidence in God, — 
"Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him," — and 
never losing a vague sense of some deliverance. We 
living to-day have learned through Christ that the 
importance of man m the eyes of God has no mystery 


or caprice about it, but that the simple fact is he 
treats him highly because he has created and endowed 
him highly; that he has formed his being to stretch 
out in a parallel of life with his own, and has formed 
his nature in likeness with divinity itself; and that 
thence it is he visits him every morning, and tries 
him every moment. 

Let us consider what it was in the conduct of God 
towards man that evinced such high regard ; that 
impressed Job so much, and seemed so inconsistent 
with the fact of man's low and fugitive existence. 
God evidently magnified man by his position on the 
earth, as lord of the creatures and possessor of the 
great material frame on which he was placed; as dis- 
tinguished also in the look of the body, declaring at 
the first glance height and supremacy, — a body where 
earth seemed refined into spirit, and which announced 
things invisible, to which his blood was more nearly 
related than to the blood of the animals. And then 
the consciousness of the spirit within him, which, 
with such as Job, was grander than he could define or 
justify, — a sort of existence which could admit the 
thought of God and the infinite, which turned in that 
direction with longing and love, evidently related to 
the greatest and born for it, — a sort of existence 
which was so high in natural rank, that while it was 
capable of knowing the first true, the first holy, it 
was also able freely to become it or freely to oppose 
it, capable of becoming, as if an independent and 


divine power, for God or against God (for all that is 
implied in a conscience and a free will) ; and so, as 
the tempter truly said, man is as one of the gods, 
knowing good and evil. Conscious of such a style of 
being, and every man is dimly conscious of it, and the 
more luminous spirits of the race, such as Job's, are 
clearly conscious of it, and it becomes evident and 
startling to such how God hath magnified him and set 
his heart upon him. Not only that he was of such a 
rank by birth, but that he was educated with a corre- 
sponding dignity; not only that he was exalted in the 
original plan of the creation, but that now these high 
thoughts towards him w^ere moving through all Nature 
and through all that ordering of events called Provi- 
dence, to teach him, to invigorate, to enlighten, and to 
fill out the whole orb of his being according to the 
original purpose, — the ancient, simple men who 
believed in God saw all this far more clearly and far 
more justly than we do. Not immodestly, but with 
awe, they saw the whole frame of events and things 
illuminated; they heard as if the whole chamber of 
the atmosphere was vocal ; they heard from every 
point voices of warning, of persuasion, of encourage- 
ment, of guidance, and felt through all with unspeak- 
able reverence that God was magnifying them and 
setting his heart upon them. 

But after all, it is singular and well worth remarking 
what to Job was the special point where God seemed 
most to magnify him; it was in the elaborate disci- 


pline of joy and sorrow with which he surrounded 
him. For years he had tried him with all the re- 
sources of joy, and now he was trying him with all 
the resources of sorrow. The deeper, the keener, the 
more bitter and intolerable his pains became, instead 
of suggesting to him that there was no God, or that 
God had forgotten him, or that God despised him, or 
even that God was angry with him, they only deepened 
the precisely contrary conviction, — namely, that God 
was more and more magnifying him and setting his 
heart upon him. Noble confidence! deepening as all 
things shook about him, brightening as the night 
darkened, — confidence in the reality and character 
of God, and of the subservience of all things to 
the moral education of man. Here he stood, the rich 
man beggared, a prince cast out, suspected and tor- 
mented by his friends, the childless father, diseased, 
with an anguish eating at every point of his com- 
fort, as a dead man dug out of his grave and made 
conscious of all his death, and eager that his head 
should sink back into the darkness, — here he was, 
darkling child in the dusk of time, with all the 
mysteries of life about him, yet he held fast his 
integrity, and held up his head and said of it all, in 
his most generous way of interpreting it, that it all 
came from the careful and peculiar regard God had 
for the interests of the human soul. "What is man, 
that thou .shouldest thus visit him every morning, 
and try him every moment.? that thou shouldest 


thus magnify him, and set thine heart upon him?" 
Wonderful ! 

Let us remember that he held firm to this, even 
though he suspected that the grave would be the end 
of him. This indeed gave him an unspeakable per- 
plexity, and even led him candidly and somewhat 
boldly to complain of God. " Why stretch out thy 
trials to the tomb? O remember that my life is 

This complaint was natural, almost unavoidable in 
so genuine a soul, and on the whole I see here a 
nobleness of conception of God and a nobleness of 
trust which I know not how to admire enough. Had 
he but seen the face of Jesus Christ, had he but 
known surely that his life was not wind, had he but 
known always and clearly that his Redeemer lived, and 
that in his flesh he should yet see God ; Oh, how would 
he then have triumphed over death and all the power 
of hell loosed against him ! Good and true and gene- 
rous servant of God, with what touching power do you 
speak to us, who, knowing what you did not know, — 
that life is but the porch of eternity, — do yet so 
selfishly misunderstand God when he afflicts! 

Here a man at that era, whose doctrine was that all 
sorrow was the eminent and costly proof of the solici- 
tude of God towards us; that in this, above all things, 
he makes us great; that here was the very sign of his 
presence and of the setting of his heart upon us, — here 
was a man who stood to this when he seemed about 



falling into extinction. And we, we who know the 
value of the spirit, and know that chastisement is 
almost the only means of its purification — we: 
where are our generous interpretations of God, our 
confidence that the deeper the sorrow the truer God 
is to us, the more his heart is set upon us? Where 
are those of us who accept the coming grief as the 
patriarchs at the door of their tents received and 
welcomed the high angels of God? Who of us glory in 
tribulations and say, "I know that the thoughts which 
thou thinkest towards us are thoughts of peace, and 
not of evil; I know that whom thou lovest thou chas- 
tenest, and scourgest every son whom thou receivest"? 
And who is there, standing at the grave of the beloved 
and mourned, standing at the grave of our health and 
hopes, that is able to say this, even in the immortal 
light which is round us to-day? Which man of us is 
equal to this which Job was equal to tens of centuries 
back, with the curtain of eternity down before him, 
and his universe darkening and falling round him, 
all of which shook not his generous thoughts of God; 
but there he stood, and the sublime fashion in which 
he interpreted the whole was, " What is man, that thou 
shouldest thus magnify him? and that thou shouldest 
thus set thine heart upon him?" 



What say est thou of thyself ? He said^ I a?n the voice of one 
crying in the wilderness. — St. John i. 22-23. 

TN preparing to contemplate the figure of him that 
was to come, let us contemplate first the figure of 
the preparer. Always must the heart which passes 
rightly forward to Christ come up from the wilder- 
ness, and from the voice and presence of John. This 
subject is not a narrow one, and may often be revisited 
without treading on the same pathway. The outline 
of his history and purposes we all know. His wonder- 
ful birth of a saintly and priestly family as the kins- 
man of Christ, and set apart from birth as his precursor; 
his retreat to the wild and mountainous desert adjacent 
to and west of the Dead Sea, there remaining "until 
the days of his showing unto Israel;" his silent, 
stern, and solemn preparation of thirty years; his 
figure at his reappearance on the borders of the wilder- 
ness and announcement of the coming kingdom of the 
Messiah; his preaching of repentance and prepara- 
tion ; the distinct pointing out of Jesus as the expected 
one; and then the tragical close of his noble career. 


Through all the great historical past, however imperial 
the scene or the issues, however sublime the actor, his 
towering head, lit with magnificent light, or erect 
under the dark and thunderous storms of fate, — look- 
ing back through the whole, I see no scene, no figure, 
which so arrests and awes me as John and his wilder- 
ness, his office and his work. 

What was this office? What did John come to do? 
He came like a trumpet to proclaim the instant 
approach of the Christ, and to call the whole Jewish 
nation to repent. Not merely on general grounds, 
but additionally and eminently as the ground of 
admission to the coming kingdom. Purify yourselves, 
because of the advent of a pure era; God is coming 
forward upon the earth ! Thus his office was not only 
to spread and deepen the idea of the expected Messiah, 
but to correct their gross notions of his reign ; and 
this all done by the simple call, " Repent ye, for the 
kingdom of heaven is at hand." 

But not only was he born to say, " Repent, ye Jews, 
the kingdom is here," but to answer the great question 
of that time, and all times, — Where is he? To say, 
This is he, this one! "Behold the Lamb!" To 
recognize the true man, and to inaugurate him before 
the blind, expecting people, is indeed the great want 
of all time. But what is that to knowing that highest 
and most hidden one of all, whom all races and times 
need, and perish while they need ? That was John 
to do, — to rouse the sluggish souls to keen looking 


around, by telling them this disturbing secret: *' There 
standeth one among you whom ye know not ; " and 
then, when they are awake and ready, " to bear record 
and say, I saw the Holy Ghost descending like a dove 
and resting on Jiim ; lo, this is he." 

Such, taken together, was the office of John, — to 
purify the lives, to arouse, reform, and direct the 
expectations of the Jews as to the Messiah and his 
kingdom. And now in what way did he fulfil such 
an office.'' 

The thing to be done was to impress a whole people 
with his authority, so as to make his convictions 
theirs, even against their bent. To do this, he 
brought with him no miracles. "John did no mira- 
cles." He was to lead in an era to which the Mosaic 
was but a shadow; yet he had no Sinai, — not one of 
the ten old miracles, to lead the Jews on a harder 
pilgrimage from a darker and deeper Egypt to a 
higher and far more distant Canaan. The greatest 
among the prophets, he yet stood bereft of their 
powers. John did no miracles; but he brought to 
work that greatest of all miracles, — a divine and 
powerful life; a faith that was certainty; a courage 
which carried a sort of almightiness in it. He seemed 
something different from a man, or the son of a man; 
he came up from the desert as one without father or 
descent, — a voice, crying in the wilderness; he came 
up as unenslaved to man or society, as an animal out 
of the forest, — his meat locusts and the wild honey; 


covered with the hair of a camel, and with a leathern 
girdle about his loins, — a figure terrible and majestic 
as a lion "out of the thicket." Thus, in those days, 
"came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness 
of Judea. " And this, to be sure, was impressive 
enough ; but it would not have been enough if it had 
been all. He came at the chosen moment of a chosen 
crisis; he came with something to say, which, said as 
he said it, the Jewish soul could not but hear,^ — some- 
thing to say to the depths of the conscience of guilty 
people, and something to say to the dearest hopes of 
the proudest nation fallen into a pit of disaster. 
Repent ye! was the first word; the next, the kingdom 
comes ! He spoke the wanted word. Look first at 
that preaching of repentance alone. It was a simple 
and stern appeal to the foundations of the national 
conscience; a rehabilitation of the few great truths of 
righteousness; and a master blow, struck at that 
Jewish idol, set up in the place of all religion, — 
namely, of the divine favoritism, of their blood rela- 
tionship to Abram, of their blood relationship to the 
mercy of God. John, as with the sound of the pure 
old law, called the souls of the corrupted people back 
to the truth, " Repent ! " The wrath of God was 
before his eyes; there it stood; it was to come. He 
saw it with his own eyes, and pointed his finger at it. 
Yet, severe as his office was, to the common people 
there was a benignity in his spirit, and he demanded 
no great things of them. But to others, — to the 


selfish, proud hypocrites, the men and the classes 
who had poisoned religion at its source, and brought 
on the doom of their country, — to them he came not 
calling to repentance, but announcing pure condem- 
nation. This grand courage and justice gave him a 
superhuman look to the eyes of the nation. Was 
there ever a voice of a religious teacher, unsupported 
by miracle and alone, like his to the aristocracy and 
power of Judea? "But when he saw many of the 
Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said 
unto them, O generation of vipers, vuJw hath waj^ned 
yoit to flee from the wrath to come? " It was evident 
that Elijah was here, — the Elijah whom the people 
expected ; it was clearly a power that was present to 
which dignities and kings and nations were as noth- 
ing; and all felt it, and bowed before it. 

But the very effect with which he preached right- 
eousness was greatly derived from the authority with 
which he announced the expected kingdom; each of 
these two offices aided and gave force to the other. 
" The watchword was pronounced, the potent sound 
— Messiah! All the people quaked like dew stirred 
by the breeze." Thus it was that, without miracle, 
John, planting himself on the depths of fear and of 
hope, by the force of a divine soul, by every sign of 
truth and nobleness, by a strange and awful life, con- 
vinced and awed and led the people. 

Let us not think that this great work was done by 
him because he was of a supernatural birth and of 


mysterious gifts. God gave him the sign and leading 
where needed, but left him then to a soul, peculiar 
indeed, but human. For example, in his deep sense 
of law and of purity on one hand, and of evil on the 
other, increased by the knowledge that the pure one 
was at the door, and that he for himself and the nation 
was the preparer of that celestial and regal holiness 
about to descend, — such thought, dwelt on in the 
deep solitude of the wilderness, and in the deeper 
solitude of his own grand heart, was the origin of 
that life through all its unearthly austerity and height. 
Let us not think that he led that life and did that 
work without a natural cost and sacrifice. To think 
rightly of him, we must think of him as a man. 
Placed by Divine Providence at an awful post, John 
took it and filled it with a strong but a human heart, 
and through the struggles of a human heart. Do you 
think his flesh was iron from the first .^ His flesh was 
as soft as the child's at your own hearth. Do you 
think there was no conquest in that thirty years in the 
Ayilderness .-* Did it cost the man nothing to contem- 
plate his work, — to rebuke, to condemn, to reappear, 
strange and uncouth as he was, and arraign a people.? 
Do you suppose this man was at all moments solidly 
sure of himself, and was left to no doubts, no uncer- 
tainties.-* Let us remember that strange message he 
sent from his prison, and just before his death, to 
Christ: "Art thou he that should come, or do we look 
for another.'*" Left to languish nearly a year in a 


prison, hearing little of the advances of Christ, and 
that little, perhaps, not according to his expectations 
of what this course would be, he began to distrust; 
and, anxious for assurance, sent and asked, " Art thou 
he?" John's view of the coming kingdom, though 
essentially pure and far above his age, blended, I 
doubt not, material, and perhaps regal circumstance 
and results with spiritual. I suppose also he thought 
of it as coming more suddenly and powerfully. God 
had advanced him far, but not yet up to "the king- 
dom of God Cometh not with observation." Observe 
the answer of Christ. After laying out before the 
messengers a simple statement of the works of power 
and mercy he was performing, as he knew they were 
not of the nature which even the best Jewish minds 
anticipated, he closes the message with the most signi- 
ficant word : "And blessed is he whosoever shall not 
be offended in me. " 



And King Hefod heard of him; and he said^ That John the 
Baptist was risen from the dead. — St. Mark vi. 14. 

•^ I ^HERE was a great rumor of Christ in the land, 
-*- and people mused as to who he was. " King 
Herod heard of him, and he said, That John the Baptist 
was risen from the dead." But "others said that it is 
Elias; and others said that it is a prophet, or as one 
of the prophets;" for people thought that nothing 
good or great could be new : it must be the resurrec- 
tion of something old. But Herod would not hear to 
any theory but his own. "It is John," he said, for 
he had a special reason; "it is John, whom I be- 
headed; he is risen from the dead." His conscience 
broke out; for to the old Jewish conscience the 
holy and the wronged must rise. The hereafter is so 
vague, the injured and abused cannot be righted 
there; so they must rise here. 

This was Herod Antipas, the son of Herod the 
Great. He had been married for some years, it seems, 
but had deserted his wife for his niece, Herodias, the 
wife of Philip, King of Arabia Petrea. This sin John 
could not endure, though he was in a manner friendly 


to Herod. So he who was terrible to Pharisees and 
Sadducees in the wilderness and at the Jordan, was 
faithful also in the King's palace, and said, "It is 
not lawful for thee to have thy brother's wife; " which 
so incensed the new wife Herodias, that she "would 
have killed him; but she could not, for Herod "feared 
John." But, as a compromise, Herod put him in 

Then Herodias watched for her time; and it came. 
It was on a great occasion, when the grace and beauty 
of her daughter Salome enraptured the weak king, 
that Herodias skilfully seized the opportunity, asked 
for and got the head of John, as the price of a dance. 

In looking at the character of Herod, he seems to 
me emphatically a man of impulse. The old-time 
kings, and indeed kings always, are made, by their 
place, creatures of impulse. Awful as the lives of 
absolute kings have been, the fact that they have 
remained human at all is a wonder; everything 
encourages them to give way to the mob of passions 
which rise in the breast. One of the greatest bless- 
ings of men is, that they are limited and rendered 
almost powerless, held in on every side, and at least 
made dependent on opinion. If from childhood we 
could do freely and always all we would do, we should 
sink into a race of abjects or of fiends. The fact 
of the one Ruler, intrusted with infinite power, and 
using all power justly, mercifully, in forgetfulness of 
self, — ■ this, when we realize what all power is, — its 


infinite seductiveness, — gives a new and strange sense 
of the beauty and divine heart of God. 

Look at this King Herod, and see what a creature 
power will make of a man who is not good. Look at 
his marriage. Fascinated by Herodias, he forgets all 
sacredhess of law, of the tie to his first wife, of the 
law of nature itself, and with a high hand marries his 
niece, quite infatuated by a fancy, and deaf and dead 
to all things sacred standing in his way. 

But more incredible still, and by far, is the scene 
of his weakness at the great festival of his birthday. 
The grace and beauty of the young princess in the 
dance made the man drunk for the moment. "Ask 
anything, — the half of my kingdom." It seems a 
fiction; but no. Such are the possibilities of impulse 
and power to make a man a fool or a madman ! 

When the time arrives with us in which, from riches 
or favor, from beauty or any power, we can do what 
we wish, then a fearful moment has come. Yet just 
that state is the aim of all our lives; we are reaching 
out to be gods without the heart of God, and if we 
attain we are apt to become criminals or fools or 

God is most beneficent in restraining us, in denying 
us our foolish wishes, until we have the character fit 
to possess some good fortune, some power. 

Though Herod was the absurd creature of impulse, 
do not think his impulses were all of a low sort. On 
the contrary this murderer was a man of strong, religi- 


ous nature. When Herodias would have killed John, 
"she could not, for Herod feared John, knowing that 
he was a just man and an holy, and observed him; and 
when he heard him, he did many things, and heard 
him gladly." A most interesting picture. See the 
awe and reverence, mixed with superstitious fear, of 
the vicious king for the just man and holy; see the 
deep deference of the head of a splendid court for a 
rough man from the wilderness: He "observed him." 
And it was not emotion merely: "when he heard him, 
he did many things." Every trait here is of a fine, 
religious nature; and it was not merely a low, reli- 
gious fear, as some might call it, but a genuine love 
of the good: "He heard him gladly." Yes; and all 
this was not mere sentimentalism, but resulted in 
actual practice: "He did many things;" which fact 
is worth note if the luxurious nature and habits of the 
king are considered, on the one hand, and, on the 
other, the stern, home-reaching duties which the iron 
John always demanded. "He did many things; " and 
we may be sure they were hard things, for John did 
not demand trifles. 

This strong, religious nature in Herod showed itself 
even in his mistakes and superstitions. When, for 
example, he saw that the head of John was asked for, 
a revulsion came, a chill, and he "was exceeding 
sorry." He would have drawn back gladly, but "for 
his oath's sake." Strange that he who had violated 
the most sacred vows had still such superstitious 


reverence for his oath that he could not break it. Like 
Shylock, though all humanity was weeping at his 
feet, he must go forward; he had "an oath, an oath 
in heaven." 

That was not insincere, however absurd. The awe 
of an oath was really upon him; it was merely the 
religion of his nature turned into superstition. But 
this religious nature is seen most strikingly in that 
deep conscience of his which, when John was dead, 
and when, sometime after, all was hushed, he heard a 
report of the mighty works of Jesus, and said, "It is 
not Elias or a prophet; it is John, whom I beheaded." 

So Herod was not merely a man of common or bad, 
but mixed impulses, and his great fault was the want 
of self-government. The higher impulses had not the 
habit of sway or mastery, but were nearly on a level 
with the fancies and lower passions. He was worse 
than a merely bad man ; he had the materials of a 
noble and heavenly nature, ruined. 

Having now roughly sketched this character, let us 
consider his conscience, — its depth and prophesying 
power. His deed was done; the reeking head of John 
was carried in. We may judge his feelings when he 
saw it, though he said not a word, and life went on; 
and the greatest of the Jews met his fate from the 
hands of two women, — one wounded and malignant, 
the other cruelly frivolous. 

See the contrast between what was inside that 
Royal Court and what was outside. There were 


living there in Palestine, at that moment, all those 
men who were soon to be the Christian apostles, — 
among them Simon the fisherman, soon to be Peter 
the rock, and James, and the half-divine John, also 
fishermen; there lived the great baptist, John, and 
there lived Jesus, the son of Mary, — all among the 
poor people of the land; while inside the court of the 
king were Herod and Herodias and Salome. I do not 
wish to make any comparison between classes of 
people, the rich and the poor, for each has faults 
enough; but it would be well if the splendid classes 
(when spoiled and proud, I mean) would remember 
how near God, and the highest gifts of God, may be 
to the children of toil whom they despise. Contrast 
the scene of the dance in the high palace of King 
Herod, with the rough and shaggy prisoner John, and 
with the men just then fishing in the Lake of Galilee. 
But after a while there is a story current of some 
great appearance in the land, — the people know not 
what or who. Then Herod starts up: "He whom I 
beheaded, John; this is he, come back from among 
the dead." 

Behold conscience! A licentious man, a king, 
whose will made law, feels that the dead body of the 
wronged victim, though you heap a world upon it, will 
not lie in the grave unrighted. Justice shall come 
forth. The pure and mighty John cannot die in this 
way; his foot shall stand again upon the earth; the 
divine power that was in him will break through ; 


these great miracles we hear of must be his, they 
can be no other's; he must have grown mightier from 
death; his wronged spirit must have come forthwith 
new powers blossoming around his path. 

Behold the testimony of the soul to the justice of 
God ! Behold the witness of the heart to the fate of 
virtue! It must prosper: this is the verdict of the 
human soul once aroused. It is a just judgment, 
though it is the judgment of a criminal. Nay, more, 
— it is a just judgment precisely on that account. 
Were the Son of God not appointed Judge of the 
world, the next fittest judge would be the sinful 
human soul, aroused, through a deep consciousness of 
its own wrong, to know the honor and glory of the 
injured sons of God. 

We have proofs of science against God to-day, but 
we have proofs of soul for God ; we have nobler attes- 
tation for him from that part of the universe which is 
likest God, — the human spirit. We are under the 
dominion of a just Being, who finally, though all law, 
even the law of death, seems against it, will vindicate 
the right. And to see this is not a power peculiar to 
prophets, but it is the great prophetic power of human 
nature, of its conscience. It may err, as Herod did 
here; but there is always in it an essential right. 
This was not John, as he thought; but the declaration 
of Herod that injured goodness must triumph, though 
we do not yet see it, has a loud "amen" from all 
corners of the world. It is just the same as when Job 


arose and said, " My Redeemer liveth, and he shall 
stand at the latter day upon the earth." "Though 
worms destroy my body, yet shall I see God." 

Herod, then, was among the prophets, — prophesy- 
ing his own condemnation as well as the triumph of 
John. And we are prophets also, as good as he, when 
in every wrong deed we do we hear a faint whisper of 
a time of adjustment coming; which time must come 
if mercy and divine pity revealed in Christ do not 
pardon what our frailty has committed, — especially if 
we have wronged the innocent; for that is an injury 
whose blood cries from the earth. 

Behind this splendid and bloody scene there stands 
a majestic figure, — John. Catch but one sound of 
his voice and one glimpse of his presence. The 
sound is, " It is not lawful for thee to have thy 
brother's wife;" and as the result of these sublime 
words we see the head of John, blood-bathed and 
borne in upon a charger. Such is the awful provi- 
dence of the world : the man who protests must die. 
Yes; and the beautiful Salome will not care, but will 
dance still; Herodias will sit a queen, forever free 
from ascetic rebuke; and Herod will feel no harm, 
though the servant of God is slain. But they will see 
him in the dreams of the night or the visions of the 
day; and Herod will shake at every whisper of his 
presence, and will himself afifirm, "John! he has come 
out from the dead ! " and all creatures will join him. 



At that moment, in that country, there was prepar- 
ing another scene, to be witnessed about one year 
after; a scene like this, but to which this was but a 
shadow, — the death and rising of Jesus Christ. John 
and Christ, two martyrs of righteousness, — the ser- 
vant and his Lord; dead, but triumphant! And be 
sure that though our life be lived in sorrow and 
gloom, misunderstood, a failure, if it be lived in 
obedience, it will not sink like water into the ground; 
for the law of God is, and the deepest law of the world 
is, "Glory and honor and life to the righteous! " 



Thou renewest the face of the earth. — Ps. civ. 30. 
Thou hast set all the borders of the earth : thou hast made summer 
and winter. — Ps. Ixxiv. 17. 

/^NCE more we see around us the face of the earth 
^-^ renewed by the hand of God. If we are bound 
to give due regard to every good or wise or beautiful 
work brought under our notice, with what earnest 
examination and solemn respect, with what gratitude 
and admiration, with what private and public rejoi- 
cings, should we celebrate this great work of God now 
before us, fresh from his hand! 

The earth, no matter when we view it, is always, 
if I may so express it, replete with God; his char- 
acter is transfused through it. But at this season it 
seems as though he made special effort to exhibit his 
character and to secure our attention to it. It appears 
as if he had here made preparation to elicit our won- 
der and gratitude in spite of us, to force some spark 
of feeling from his dull, torpid creatures. For this 
purpose he makes a sort of re-enacting of the first scene 
of creation. The suddenness, too, with which all 
these effects are produced, their vastness, their youthful 


freshness, is a beautiful imitation of the morning of 
creation, a repetition of that first transaction when 
"God said: Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb 
yielding seed, and the fruit-tree yielding fruit after 
his kind." 

The season of spring seems intended to startle us 
out of the stupor of custom, and to present before the 
eyes annually the great and affecting fact that there 
is a Creator, and that the earth is a new work from 
his hands. It is enough to shock any serious and 
intelligent person that all this should pass on before 
the eyes of so large a part of mankind without ex- 
citing anything like thoughtful attention. If I can 
stand within this wonderful theatre and ascribe no 
glory or thanks to my Maker, if, sunk in bestial 
oblivion, having eyes I see not, it were far better if 
God had not given me eyes, better that he had made 
me lower than the beasts of the field. 

It may be that the time has passed when we, accord- 
ing to the poetic idea of the first parents, can stand, 
as every evening falls or every day arises, and unite 
with the earth in a lofty hymn to the natural Lord of 
the day; but at least in the opening of the great 
annual day it does become us to sing aloud to God our 
Maker, to "take a psalm, and bring hither the timbrel, 
the pleasant harp with the psaltery." 

One of the first things which strike us in this scene 
is its affluence. Everywhere over the fields, through 
the forests, in places known and unknown, in populous 


cities and in wildernesses which no eye has seen since 
the world was made, — everywhere, from the green rim 
of the river up to the tops of the mountains, the same 
fresh, perfect works. Examine that wild flower, or 
that splendid weed, which one may gather even at the 
door; it is wrought as well as if that were the only 
thing ever made, and as though it was meant when 
finished to be exhibited to the world. 

The profusion is wonderful. God, who is the most 
rigid of economists in his mode of producing results, 
seems to be even unaccountably lavish of the results 
themselves. Full measure, heaped up and running 
over. How little must his thoughts be as our thoughts 
— this is the natural reflection — or his ways as ours ! 
O Lord, how manifold are thy works! Thou hast sent 
life as a flood of waters up over all the lands, clothed 
the hills to their tops, even to the highest part of the 

In the first grand exhibition in London of the world's 
skill and industry, the architect wrote upon the arches 
of the temple which held the multitudinous and 
precious works, this inscription of praise: "The earth 
is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof." To any 
who walked through that magazine of the world's 
work, how grand and benign did it seem, this vast 
creation of man, doing honor to a creature who, 
formed in the image of his Maker, builds, too, like 
his Maker, a world of his own, and no mean world! 
But the curiosity and awe felt in that scene does but 


reproach and rebuke a world so dead through custom 
that it walks dumb and blindfolded through such a 
scene as this spring day, made by God ; so old, yet 
standing as fresh and strong as when "the morning 
stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted 
for joy." 

Again: consider the attention to beauty which 
appears at this season, for the Creator's attention to 
beauty seems to be co-ordinate with his attention to 
utility. The design to make things gratify the taste 
seems to run side by side with and to be not less than 
the design of making them useful. The common 
grass for the animals looks as if it were made for 
nothing else than beauty; and something of the same 
spirit is poured out even upon things noxious and 
vile. I see marks of the same hand from the garnish- 
ing of the heavens down to the form and colors of the 
serpent. The universe seems like a picture, and 
wherever a touch of beauty could be laid in, there the 
pencil and the colors of the divine artist appear. 

From this universal attention to beauty, it seems to 
me that there is just the same proof that God wishes 
us to discover and enjoy the loveliness of creation as 
that he wishes us to discover and enjoy its comforts; 
and that if we are refined enough we will praise him 
as the God of beauty, exalting our souls with his 
glory, hardly less than we praise him as the God who 
maketh the food to grow. I believe that a proper 
appreciation of Nature will not only increase indefi- 


nitely the happiness of any man, but soothe and purify 


I know very well that there have been men who 

united in themselves great depravity with exquisite 

sensibility to Nature; but this union is by no means 

a natural one. I appeal to any one who has ever felt 

the calm delights of rural places, — the deep forest, 

the gurgling sound of a brook, — 

" Which to the quiet woods all night 
Singeth a quiet tune," 

whether there was not something there which refined 
and bettered his heart. When I see that God has 
given so much attention to beauty I am persuaded 
that it must have a high purpose. The purity and 
innocence of Nature expel with a gentle but powerful 
influence the corrosion of malice, the folly and noise 
and grossness of a weak and sinful and silly life. 

"I have known men," says one, "who, by continual 
disregard of duty, had learned to turn a deaf ear to 
the earnest remonstrances and the silent sorrows of 
their friends, to the exultation of their enemies and 
the withdrawal of public confidence; yet perhaps a 
walk in the country on a summer morning, a look 
around, has called up in the apostate heart the thought 
of that infinite mercy which does not withdraw its 
blessings nor the capacity of enjoyment from him who 
has forfeited all by disobedience." 

Again: this season has followed and risen out of 
the midst of winter; it has come forth like a living 


form out of the grave, in the splendor of its resurrec- 
tion-garments. Now why should not all have been 
left dead as it was ? Suppose God had not looked this 
way; suppose he had not said, "I will bring this 
world to life again." It is not of course that it lives 
again, but it is " because the Lord has not forgotten 
to be gracious." A sight of more helpless dependence 
cannot be imagined than the races of men and animals 
in the winter. "These wait all upon thee; that thou 
mayest send forth thy spirit again and renew the face 
of the earth; that thou mayest give them their meat 
in due season. That thou givest them they gather; 
thou openest thine hand, they are filled with good." 

But this beneficent advance from winter to summer 
is striking in more respects than this. In this change 
the earth seems intended to rehearse before the eyes 
of man, its natural head, his own great history; to 
rehearse it before him, to teach him and to console 
him. For when winter comes on, if it were our first 
winter, we would certainly think, " Here is the end of 
the life of the world; death has gone gradually but 
thoroughly through the whole frame, and it would 
seem highly unnatural that it should ever be revived." 
Just so with the death of man himself. We see the 
powers and freshness all gone, and because we have in 
this case not seen the spring, it seems strange and 
improbable; we are like the prophet: "Son of man, 
can these bones livc.^ " Then said the Lord unto him, 
" Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and 


say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord God : Come from 
the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these 
slain, that they may live." So "the breath came into 
them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an 
exceeding great army." 

Yes, as the Spirit of God has breathed this wonder- 
ful life through Nature, so shall it breathe with power 
upon us; and the dead generations of men, each man 
in his place, shall stand up upon their feet before 
him, "an exceeding great army." And he that sits 
upon the throne shall say, " Behold, I make all things 
new. " 

" Sin-blighted though we are, 

We, too, the reasoning sons of men, 
From our oblivious winter called, 

Shall rise and breathe again, 
And in eternal summer lose 
Our threescore years and ten." 

Some people think that when a man says his church 
is in the woods or in the open scenes of Nature, he is 
little better than an infidel ; and I grant you it is bad 
enough if he means, as many do mean, that that is his 
only church or his best church. But let the revela- 
tion of Scripture teach us to decipher the revelation 
of Nature. Come into this peaceful presence, into 
this beautiful and pure presence; feel the impurity 
and deformity of all iniquity and meanness. Standing 
in the actual presence of his munificent love, let us 
bow our souls to adore him who gives all, who will 
do all things wisely, and to whom and to his redeem- 


ing mercy as revealed in Christ we can commit our 
souls when this scene is closed, sure that he will open 
through the grave new heavens and a new earth so 
pure and satisfying that the old will no longer be 
remembered, neither will it come into mind. 



That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after 
him a7id fnd him. — Acts xvii. 27. 

WE are so accustomed to the Christian idea of God 
that it seems one of the easiest and most obvi- 
ous of our conceptions. But in fact, it is an idea which 
men reach to, and hold with great difficulty. So that it 
has always been necessary as the first great labor of 
Providence, not only'in the History of the Jews but in 
all history, to teach this idea, and implant it, to cause 
men to know, from the rising of the sun and from the 
west, the simple but most grand truth that " there is 
none besides Him, — that he is the Lord, and that there 
is none else." 

Of the fact that the idea of God has not been prop- 
erly conceived by men, there is no need of proof. The 
human race might be described as a family of idolaters. 
Of the dense masses of men which have covered the 
face of the world for thousands of years, the worshippers 
of a true God have been not only a small portion, but 
as it were, a slight exception ; that is the fact. I pro- 
pose to account for this wonderful fact, and I shall do it, 
simply on the ground of the difficulty of the idea. I 


shall begin by accounting in this way for idolatry in 
general, and then attempt to account for some of the 
more prominent forms of idolatry which have been 
found in the world. 

The first point is then as to idolatry in general, that is, 
the worship of a false God. There is a more strict sense 
in which idolatry is the worship of an image ; but I use 
it now in its more general meaning, namely, the worship 
of that for God which is not God. 

In accounting for men's false ideas as to the Supreme 
Being, I refer first to the intellectual, second to the 
moral difficulties of the idea. Our idea of God is not, as 
we think it, something so dear and near that the mind 
reaches it as if by necessity. It is common to find in 
books the assertion that the idea of God is universal. 
Now, if it be meant that the God of the Christians, or 
of the Hebrews, or of philosophy is naturally attained, 
there is nothing further from the truth. There is an 
idea of God to which all reach, — the idea, I mean, that 
there is something superior, something above us, which 
awakens awe or fear. This is what many reasoners 
mean when they say that the idea of God is universal, 
that no people or tribe have been found without it. 
But it would be much more proper to say that all men 
have an idea of something that stands for God; since to 
call that God which some savages worship would reduce 
the Deity to a very low character indeed. The truth of 
this matter is that the human mind necessarily goes 
towards some idea of God ; and finds the beginning of 


it, but no more than that. To reach the Christian idea 
of him, is another thing ; the advance to that is full of 
difficulty. Indeed, so great are the difficulties, that if 
the mere intellect were the guide, I believe man never 
would, never could know God. Take first the mass of 
human beings. Not that mass we see around us, each 
of whom inherits and holds and even takes for granted 
truths which even the highest minds of antiquity could 
not reach ; I mean the mass of the simple, rude chil- 
dren of nature. Take these minds, and what idea will 
they form of God? They cannot ascend through a 
series of abstract reasonings to one great cause, for 
though they have the rudiments in them of this sort of 
reasoning, it is as imperfect as are their monstrous 
images and paintings, when compared with the perfec- 
tion of civilized art. It is a bare impossibility that 
through mere reasoning they should rise to the idea of 
one Governor of affairs, and more so that they should 
rise to the mysterious and sublime thought of One 
Spirit who creates as well as arranges and disposes all. 
If at any time, through some happy fortune, a glimpse 
of this idea was reached and held by some tribes, it 
was but a glimpse, and was obtained, no doubt, more 
through the moral than the mental nature. 

But if the mass could not reach the idea, there 
have always been high and cultivated men, perhaps, 
who could attain to it and diffuse it among their 
fellows. As a matter of fact, I know that there have 
been refined and noble speculations on the subject, 


particularly among the Greeks. But not to speak of 
the want of assurance which marked all their conclu- 
sions, the bare idea of a Creator, for instance, in our 
notion of it, was very rarely, if ever, reached. The idea 
of matter absolutely made from nothing by the will of 
a Spirit, was pronounced an absurdity by Aristotle ; 
and Aristotle, it appears to me, was most properly and 
eminently the scientific mind of all men the world has 
known. He was the representative of the power the 
mere intellect has to find out a God, — and he did not 
find him. Plato came much nearer to it; but it was 
not through the intellect strictly, and it is of that I am 
now speaking. I do not wonder that Aristotle or any of 
his class could not reach the idea; I think it is not pos- 
sible they should. Not to speak of the other charac- 
teristics of his nature, but merely of that which seems 
to fall most naturally within the sphere of the intellect, 
his character as Creator, I think it impossible that 
the mere efforts of the understanding could conclude 
that there is a Creator : I mean a Creator of substance, 
not a contriver or arranger or modifier. The proof of 
this cannot be entered into here; but it is sufficient 
to say that through the mere process of the intellect, 
not one philosopher ever has reached the idea. 

So far then as the intellect of man is concerned, in 
his lowest or highest condition, it is not strange that 
his notions should be so false as to the great object of his 

Consider, in the next place, the moral difficulties of 


the idea. The notion which any individual or people 
form of God is in a great measure a reflection of their 
own character, though of course enlarged and elevated in 
some particulars. A man's God is naturally an image of 
the man's self, in large size and with some modifications. 
But suppose men refined their notion of God so as to raise 
it much above themselves ; still it is clear that in their 
conceptions they could not transcend certain limits im- 
posed upon them by their own moral conditions. If we 
single out a heathen of low, confined moral nature and 
leave it to him to frame a God, he cannot make him, he 
will not even dream of him, as perfectly holy, pure, merci- 
ful and unchangeable. Now these two classes of difficul- 
ties, — the difficulties in the mind and in the heart of 
man, — these together shut him out from the true God, 
and leave in the place some false idol — that is, some idea, 
more or less degraded. But apart from these common 
difficulties of the idea, there is one which I wish to men- 
tion by itself We will suppose that some one or few 
minds could rise above most of the difficulties in the 
way of others ; that some natures of pure, moral insight, 
and commanding compass and power of thought, would 
conceive of God in a very lofty style, as Socrates did, 
and as Plato did, — men who approached as near to the 
truth as is possible for the unaided human powers. 
Socrates for example, uttered that profoundly wise say- 
ing, — "I do not know what God is, but I do know what 
he is not." There is, as I conceive, a class of difficulties 
in the way of such minds which they never would sur- 


mount. To make what I mean clear, let us reflect a 
moment on what the revealed idea of God is. It is this : 
A Being who on the one hand is infinite and incon- 
ceivable in all his powers and qualities; a Being "with- 
out parts or passions" as the definition expresses it; 
a Being of such awfulness that the Jews wrote, but 
counted it sinful to utter his peculiar name ; a Being 
who is called the Invisible, whom no eye hath seen or 
can see; — this referring not merely to his being re- 
moved out of the range of the bodily eye, but quite out 
of the range of the widest mental vision; the Being of 
whom we have heard only as it were the faintest whisper, 
while the thunder of his power is inaudible or incom- 
prehensible. This, on the one hand. On the other, the 
Christian's God is, if I may say so, thoroughly compre- 
hensible; not only so, but he is called the Father of 
men, — otir Father; representing himself to us as one 
kindred to us, who sees, who feels, who cares, and who 
is altogether such as our weak human hearts need. He 
numbers the hairs of our head. His ears are open to 
our cries. In fear or trouble, we hide ourselves beneath 
the shadow of his wings. In prayer, we may speak 
to him as a man speaks to his friend ; and things 
which would be indifferent even to the ear of a mere 
mortal will be heard with interest and solicitude by 

Here is an idea of God which I cannot think human 
nature under the best circumstances could ever reach. 
Here are two views of the same Being which I think no 


man would dare to bring together. It may be that in 
either of these aspects the mind could work out as just 
views as those of Revelation, — but who would ever 
venture to bring together and hold together such mighty 
opposites as God the Invisible and Eternal, " without 
parts or passions," and God the true and thorough Father 
in heart of us all. If these are not contradictions to the 
mere understanding, they are at least views which, judged 
by the intellect, can never be reconciled. The human 
mind has never dared to hold them together. If it 
reaches out to the greatness of God's character, it loses 
the sense of him as a God whom we know, and who is 
capable of sympathizing with us. Or if it takes this last 
view, then it denies or merges the majesty of the King 
Eternal and Immortal, and makes him in great part such 
an one as we are. This I say, has always been done, and 
I suppose from the nature of the human mind it always 
would have been done, even by the noblest class of men ; 
and I conclude that without a revelation, the Christian 
idea of God never would have been adopted through all 
ages. And that idea of him, though its aspect appears 
irreconcilable, and though it would not have been 
received, is, now that it is made known and authorita- 
tively established, seen to be by far the most just idea 
we are able to (orm. On the one hand, his nature must 
be inconceivably high and lifted up ; '* as the heavens 
are higher than the earth, so must his thoughts be 
higher than our thoughts, and his ways than our ways." 
Yet he who made us imist be a Father to us. What- 



ever differences there are, these two things 7nust he, if 
we wish to form the most ample, the most interesting, 
and the most suitable idea of the divine nature. If he 
were not at once both these, — if he were anything less 
or different, he would be a God less perfect than our 
idea of him. 

I have now shown some of the difficulties in men's 
thoughts of God, in order to account for idolatry in 
general. The mind and heart of man both being given, 
the depravity of one, and the weakness of both, it is 
very easy to see how such a being would form just such 
religions as he actually has formed. 

I propose to inquire whether those very causes which 
prevented men from forming just notions of the Deity, 
do not now operate after Revelation has given them the 
idea, and produce more or less distortion of it. It 
would be interesting to inquire how far this has been 
the case through the whole period of the Christian 
Church, and what effects it has produced upon the- 
ology, worship, and piety, and indirectly upon all the 
interests of man. How far do we in our usual thoughts 
of God, misconceive and distort? How far do we 
falsify his image, even when it has been so perfectly 
delineated before us ! Take first his two great moral 
attributes, his mercy and his justice. In the divine 
nature, as the Scripture reports it to us, both of these 
are perfect. Yet in our conceptions, they are either 
habitually brought down and measured by the imper- 
fection of our own nature, or, on the other hand, they 


become so vague that they are hardly realities at all. 
One cries, "God's justice can do this or that." Why? 
Because he squares its quality and extent by his own 
nature, — yes, even when in his own nature the quality 
of pure, moral justice may hardly be developed at 
all. I do not mean that our own sense of things is 
not to be used in conceiving of God. Without that, 
we can have 110 conception of him. But the fault is 
in making that the measure and compass of all that 
God is, instead of enlarging it, and still enlarging it, 
that it may take in thoughts more and more worthy of 
him. The same remarks may be applied to our ideas 
of God's mercy. But if we should happen to think 
rightly of him either as merciful or just, we will very 
likely fail in thinking of him as both merciful and just ; 
we are so one-sided, that one view well realized indis- 
poses us to the other. 

Take the two aspects of him of which I have already 
spoken ; his greatness and his nearness. Let us ex- 
amine our own consciousness, and see if there are not 
some great defects here on the one hand or on the 
other. FJis greatness^ — Do we think aught of his 
Wisdom, Power, Omnipresence? Do we think aught 
of him in the Invisible? His nearness, — Do we think 
aught of his human interest in us, — of the minuteness 
of his providence. Do we feel that sort of relation 
to him which Abraham felt, and Enoch ; and this, 
without abating that awful reverence which they felt? 
*' And Abraham fell on his face, and God talked with 


him." God talked with them as a man with his fellow, 
yet they took off their shoes from off their feet. 

In these particulars, and others which might be en- 
larged, if we examine we will find a defect. All our 
weaknesses tend to this effect. We do not seem ever 
to know that it is a hard thing to think rightly of God. 
We make no study of it. All Christian minds are in 
some degree idolatrous ; there is some falseness of con- 
ception ; some hint or feature or expression of an idol 
is left lurking in the idea of the true God. And with 
the majority, this idolatry is no small thing. 

The importance of realizing right conceptions may be 
understood when I say that the whole of a religion is 
the impression which the worshipper has of his God. 
Just according to its perfection felt and realized, is the 
perfection of the worshipper. And every misconcep- 
tion or distortion in the object worshipped is a fruitful 
and comprehensive cause of mischief. Therefore, in the 
one great divine act of religion, " seek the Lord, if 
haply you may feel after him and find him; for he is 
not far from every one of us." 



As Jesus passed by, he saw a ?nan which was blind fro fn his birth. 
And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this 
man, or his parents, that he was born blifidf Jesus answered^ 
Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents ; but that the 
works of God should be inade inanifest in him. — John ix. 1-3. 

'T^HE Jews had been taught that good and evil were 
^ accurately dealt out to each man now and here ; 
and so they regarded all special disease and calamity 
as implying some special sin. But as they found many 
difficulties in such a view, for example, in the cases of 
innocent children, they tried to bear it out by another 
opinion, which the Pharisees had adopted from the 
Greek or Eastern philosophy, — that of the transmi- 
gration of souls. It was easy thus to justify any afflic- 
tion, even to a child, and though it began with the 
birth, by referring it to the bad acts of a man in some 
preceding stage, when his soul had lived in some other 

The question of the disciples in this case seems to 
take for granted that Christ as well as all others ad- 
mitted this, and it seems to have been merely a curious 
inquiry. Or it is as if they had said, *' Here are two 


doctrines, either of which is full of difficulties : one, that 
special ills may be brought on a man on the parent's 
account; the other, that there is such a thing as a pas- 
sage of souls from body to body, and that the sufferings 
of this body may be referred to the sin of the soul in 
another body." 

Here meets us, in this little story, the oldest and the 
newest puzzle of the world, — how, namely, to account 
for the state of God's creatures here on the assump- 
tion that God is perfect in goodness and justice; for 
it is wonderful how the heart of man clings to the 
idea of the perfection of God, whatever may be against 
it. It is a curious fact that, though the passions 
darkening the soul do always gradually corrupt the 
idea of God, yet no other force, either of persuasion 
or conviction, that the world has to offer can make a 
sincere heart yield up its perfect idea of God. So dear 
is this idea to the intelligence, and to all the depths of 
a human being, that nothing but the corrupting of his 
own nature can force it or win it away. Hence we see 
Pythagoras and his doctrine of metempsychosis, — a 
strange-looking doctrine, to be sure, at first, but still an 
ingenious plan to quiet the mind, as to this greatest 
of disquieters, — suffering without guilt. It was the 
best the philosopher could do, and it was the best the 
Jews could do ; and it deserves at least this praise, that 
it allowed the Jew to hold up pure and untouched the 
idea of a perfect God. 

The difficulty in these old times was not as to the 


origin of moral evil, for that, it was felt, begins in the 
centre of a man's self, and can have no other explana- 
tion than that we choose it and strictly originate it our- 
selves. Their difficulty was simply as to cases where 
there could clearly be no guilt, but where yet there 
was calamity, as in the diseases and death of children. 
Now it may have been an unproved, and at first a 
strange, but not quite an absurd view of this, to say that 
the creature suffered for what it did before it came 
here. Only these philosophers seemed to forget that 
suffering; without a consciousness of crime can answer 
none of the ends of punishment, and as a moral regula- 
tion is not worthy of God. 

Still, imperfect as was this view, it was incomparably 
superior to an attempt which we have seen in our own 
day, to account by this very theory for the origin of 
sin itself, — a philosophical feat exhibited here in New 
England a few years since. To account for that at all, 
as I have said, except by our consciousness that we 
choose it, is absurd, and argues essential defect of 
higher insight in the mind attempting it; but to explain 
it by saying that we began to sin in another state before 
this, is just to push the question back into the past, and 
there to leave it as mysterious as we found it. 

The Jews, to account for the suffering of the inno- 
cent, had still another view, more ancient than that I 
have mentioned, — that the child suffered for the sins 
of the parents or ancestors; and their Scriptures seemed 
to give countenance to this theory. Indeed, so much 


so that the view is still held in large portions of the 
Christian church to this day, and a complete system of 
theology is built upon it. It is most undeniable, and 
one of the most common of facts, that children inherit 
the diseases or suffer from the indolence, ignorance, 
viciousness, or imprudence of progenitors. Alas, how- 
much so ! And one must often think that, if God did 
not secretly interfere and refresh the springs of life, the 
world of men would soon dwindle and die out. 

This fact in the world, then, is not only not to be de- 
nied, but we should keep it before us as one of the most 
awful of realities, that we stand so related to those who 
descend from us that upon their heads come the issues 
of our acts. But, acknowledging with profoundcst awe 
this fact, who has told us, where are we told in Scrip- 
ture or in nature, that this way of proceeding is reckoned 
just by God? Nowhere in Sacred Scripture, I think. 
We are, to be sure, repeatedly told there, and we read 
Sunday by Sunday in the Decalogue, of the general 
fact of the visiting of the sins of the fathers upon the 
children, even to the third and fourth generation ; but 
this, w^herever referred to or repeated by prophet or 
apostle, means no more than the dread fact which all 
must admit and of which I have spoken. 

But upon all these statements we have the beautiful 
commentary of Ezekiel, — that, though the mysterious 
fact of evil descending from the father to the child does 
exist, it is the soul that sinneth that shall die. And viewed 
in reason, what a miserable delusion is it to account for 


something unaccountable, — the birth of a bHnd child, — 
by a fact as dark as the one we are explaining, — the 
transmission of evil ! Does not this, instead of throwing 
light upon anything else, need itself to be cleared up 
as much as anything we know of? A most signal thing 
it is in the history of human judgments, that men, hav- 
ing one fact to account for, will often resort to another 
just as inexplicable, and attempt to explain one piece 
of darkness by another piece of darkness. 

The process of reasoning is briefly this. Here is great 
sufl"ering where we see no guilt. Now under a just God 
there cannot be suffering without guilt. So, if there be no 
guilt in this person it must be found in his parents, who, 
having a sort of physical union with him, may by the 
imagination be regarded as having also a moral oneness 
with him, so that in some vague way the guilt of the 
parent may be regarded as the guilt of the child. Alas, 
what a theory ! 

There is one general, but I think important maxim, 
in judging of God's works. Better a thousand dark 
facts unexplained than one bad explanation. A bad 
explanation clears up one fact by another, which other 
it takes for granted is according to God's mind, but 
which is not any more than the first, — and thus it fastens 
wickedness to the very throne of God itself; while, if 
the same facts were left as dark mysteries only, there 
w^ould be no imputation upon God, and no outrage 
upon our own moral sense, and we could wait, even to 
eternity, for our explanations. 


Let us, then, be impatient of all systems or theories 
which, bent on explaining, will do it though at the 
expense of God and man. Let us rather leave all our 
dark facts buried in darkness, and bow down in igno- 
rance, in the depths of this night of nature, and with 
our hand upon our mouths confess that there is truly 
a horror of great darkness, but yet that God is true, 
that God is light, that in him is no darkness at all, and 
that perhaps he may ordain in some future era that in 
his light we shall see light. 

These two explanations of the innocent suffering in 
the world are brought to our Lord, and he is asked 
which of the two is the better. "And as Jesus passed 
by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth." 
Seeing him it is probable the compassionate Saviour 
stopped to look at him and think about him, and the 
disciples, observing this, asked him, saying, ** Master, 
who did sin, this man," in some prior state, " or his 
parents, that he was born blind?" Through the life 
of our Lord, as I think, there was no more difficult 
question asked of him. But here is the answer, " Neither 
hath this man sinned, nor his parents ; but that the 
works of God should be made manifest in him." 

The superiority of this answer, like almost everything 
in the life of Christ, cannot be easily realized. " Neither 
hath this man sinned, nor his parents," puts by at once, 
as if they were child's playthings, both the great theo- 
ries which had occupied the minds of the sages and 


Merely to think one's self out of these opinions was a 
mighty spring for the genius of a Jew. But here was 
not merely an opinion, — it was a religious belief; and 
not that merely, — It was a profound social prejudice. 
The poor, the specially afflicted, had come to be looked 
on somewhat as one of the officials of the Holy Office 
looked on the heretic, even in the tortures of the stake, 
— not with pity, but with a sort of hatred ; so that 
suffering, instead of melting, hardened, and gave to 
aversion a point and keenness. 

Christ must rise at once above all this and more than 
this. Just according to the reverence with which his 
disciples looked upon him, they expected that he could 
have no sympathy with those upon whom the smitings of 
God had set a mark as secret criminals. It was a shock, 
therefore, to his friends to see this Holy One apparently 
taking part with criminals against God, when he seemed 
to sympathize with them, and declared their innocence ; 
while in other cases of calamity, where he did not 
declare their innocence and yet sympathized, the shock 
must have been greater still. But this Being dared to 
be just, though in doing that he seemed to be doing sacri- 
lege, and he dared to be merciful at the expense of 
justice itself; and thus set up a new rule and a new heart 
for God and for man, which, exalting mercy, ends in exalt- 
ing justice also, and, revealing a new way of feeling on 
the part of God and Christ, teaches a new way by which 
the heart of man may rise through more mercy into a 
purer justice towards others. 


All this was not so much taught as lived, out before 
men, in the feelings Christ showed to the sinful and dis- 
tressed. At his own cost he put aside all theories and 
all feelings which were against these classes, and intro- 
duced the new light of a better justice where they erred 
in that respect, as in the case before us ; and in cases 
where mere justice might have had right, he brought in 
the new light of a mercy which triumphed over it at 
first, though it exalted it at last. 

" Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents." 
How bold ! how merciful ! All the old thoughts are 
put aside then. And now hear his own view of the mat- 
ter: " but that the works of God should be made mani- 
fest in him." Let us give this answer the breadth that 
belongs to it. No word coming out of those divine lips 
can come more home to us; for have we not all the 
deepest stake just here? To know that in this state, or 
in states beyond, we are not in the hands of mere power, 
or of a goodness doubtful and mysterious, is for us chil- 
dren of pain and sorrow the finest piece of knowledge. 

"That the works of God should be made manifest in 
him," — that is, to account for the blind eyes and all 
such sad things visited upon the innocent, wc must not 
look back but forward, to the results they are intended 
to produce. They are means or occasions by which 
God shows us himself, his wisdom and goodness. In 
other words, the evil is here that good doings may be 
drawn out by it, that the works of God may be shown, 
— " first and now by me, as I proceed to cure this eye, 


and to give light, but in general in ail the ways in which 
it draws out good. This case of innocent evil is here 
that I might heal it, and that thus this man's blind 
eyes should be the occasion of exhibiting the power and 
goodness of God, and my mission. These cases are the 
rude material out of which I am to set forth a new 
redeeming creation, and to show myself as the Deliverer 
of nature -as well as of the spirit. These are the oppor- 
tunities by which the power and mercy of God, which 
now act through me, are livingly shown to the world." 
And so he gives light to the blind eyes. 

This is the primary meaning. The general meaning 
in these words I take then to be this. Having simply 
denied and protested against the inference of sin from 
the presence of calamity, — he declares that all we need 
to know about it is that it is to manifest the works of 
God, — that is, a designed occasion of bringing forth 
good. But as all evil, according to its kind, gives occa- 
sion for the manifestation of good, so this has its peculiar 
way of bringing it forth. The defeat and wrong and 
suffering of the innocent are here, in order to draw out 
and show in manifold ways the works of God. 

This is one part of that awful truth, whose reach is so 
vast that no eye can see through it, — namely, that all 
evil, sin itself, is permitted as the occasion of the mani- 
festation, the necessity perhaps of the existence of 
good, in one or another of its forms, as justice or as 
mercy. But the sorrows and penalties of sin manifest or 
bring out the character and works of God in one way. 


while the sufferings of innocence do so in far different 

The most direct and obvious way is in the awakening 
of sympathy and mercy in the world, which is the work 
of God manifested through all his compassionate chil- 
dren, — to create a deep-toned brotherhood of humanity, 
and thus through mystery and sorrow to build the world 
into a family of love. If there be a sight which draws 
the heart of man to his fellow, it is that of undeserved 
suffering; and any miserable theory or prejudice which 
connects the ills of the unfortunate part of our race 
with some imaginary ill-desert, as was the case with the 
Jews and generally, or which simply feels a sense of 
inferiority towards the unfortunate and down-trodden, or 
a distaste towards them, or any emotion but divine pity, 
is among the worst remnants of the savageness of man. 
This sorrow is before us that the works of God may be 
manifested by us as to it, — that we give it justice, and 
pity, and succor, that thus in our hearts, in the institutions 
or reliefs of society, and in the effects upon the sufferer, 
we manifest the works of God, and surround this black 
spot with a golden circle. 

But there are many less obvious ways of eliciting 
good from these evils. For example, a species of de- 
fect in a being may be the best means of giving him a 
higher perfection. Physical evils not only may lead to 
unspeakably precious gifts in the spirit, but they seem 
naturally to do so, to such a degree that it may be 
almost doubted if ever — certainly only in exceptional 


cases — an eye is opened to God which is not first 
bhnded to the world. 

Not only the afflicted learn to possess what remains 
by the loss of what is lost, but those undeprived learn 
to know what is held by them only by what is withheld 
from others. How pain reveals ease and pleasure; 
deformity, comeliness ; disease, health ; a blind ball, 
without expression, the beauty and power of our 
vision ! 

The great work of God is faith, and whatever mystery 
calls up the spirit to the highest confidence in him, if it 
works out that confidence, it breaks into light at once. 
Was it not, then, a necessity to the human spirit that 
just that amount of defect, of dark, of ungodliness, 
should be seen in nature and Providence? If not, the 
peculiar spiritual excellency of man, as no doubt of all 
rational creatures, the uplifting instinct of rest upon an 
unseen Father above us, would be, must be, entirely 
wanting. There must be something in my life which 
says to me, " Wait," and I must answer, '* I will wait." 
The cloud of my life, though black with tempest, will 
change into gold and flame at some point of its passage 
through the heavens. 

All evils but wait, as this blind man, the moment 
when the Lord appears. The hour comes when they 
shall manifest the glory of God, as the clouds about the 
east, expecting through a long night the moment when 
the sun shall smite them with his light. 

God's wisdom and high interests in regard to human- 


ity are shown in evil, in that he has here afforded to 
man the noblest spiritual work and victory. He has 
allowed and prepared for man here a share in a work 
of creation, nobler than that of the "days," — the cre- 
ation once more of the emerging moral heavens and 
earth. Man is set forward into a chaos if you will, with 
the work to do of manifesting God through himself in 
the conflict against evils, and in removing the injustice 
of nature. Man is God's agent in the mighty advance 
*' against chaos and the dark." 

I suppose evil necessary to the revelation of God. 
I take it that all revelation of God must first make us 
sensible of wants, and then we can understand supply ; 
and in every department of being, for a finite soul to 
learn anything there of God, there must be first a felt 
evil and then a remedy, and it all consists in this. 

We have seen the false views once prevailing in the 
world as to evil. Is nothing of this left? Many of the 
improvements in our feelings as to religion arise from 
our indifference. Did we see clearly the present hand 
of God it would be something to preserve correct 
views. But what will our views prove to be if they are 
examined? How often does the child oi misfortune or 
guilt, the poor diseased wretch, in addition to the heavy 
burden nature has laid on him, endure the far heavier 
one of the contempt of his kind, or, far worse, their 
superstitious horror ! What immense injustice ! 

I reserve to the last this, — that this blind man, in 
common with all the diseased, gave occasion to the 


work of Christ. These representative works were done 
to show us that in all evil the same Workman manifests 
the works of God now on every occasion. All evil is 
meant to call forth the spirit and power of goodness. 
But not in God only; in Christ, to whom we are to 
look. And not here only, but to call it forth in us also, 
who are of God ; to call forth power, but also, and 
chiefly, to call forth the same spirit of affectionate 
brotherhood which is the highest manifestation of the 
works of God. 



The kingdom of God is within you. — Luke xvii. 21. 

TF it were necessary that the Jew even in respect to so 
^ spiritual a matter as the reign of God should be 
reminded that " the kingdom of God is within you," not 
without you, it is not to be wondered at, that man in 
his search after great things and happy things must 
always be reminded of the same fact. On the whole 
history of men, of every empire and of every civiliza- 
tion, is written, " the kingdom of God is without us." 
That is the world's thought, or, what is deeper, its 
feeling. Here is the one grand mistake and failure 
of the race; they do not know where lies that grand 
expected good which each heart goes after. The Son 
of God appeared and taught the secret, and said, " The 
kingdom of God is within you." And after him all 
who take up and repeat his messages to the world are 
bound not to forget and never to let men forget where 
the kingdom of God is. Hear this grand instruction of 
the Son of God to the soul of man. 

Perhaps there has been no age, and no place, which 
have so much needed this message as our own at this 
time. Men are all agreed that our prosperity is tran- 


scendent. The glorious days of the world seem to 
have commenced. Since the beginning, the condition 
of the world never promised so much, and never were 
men so apt to mistake where the kingdom is, as just 
now. What a magnificent prosperity, splendid, various, 
vast ! The world presents to every man very much 
such a vision as was opened to the Son of God in his 
temptation. " And he shewed unto him the kingdoms 
of the world, and the glory of them : and said all these 
will I give thee," etc. I say that to us in this age and 
place everything around speaks as loudly as a thousand 
trumpets, " The kingdom is without you ! " This above 
all ages is under the great world-temptation of substi- 
tuting and worshipping the creature for the Creator. 
Never was the human heart under such an overpower- 
ing dazzle, and most fatal delusion. What is all this 
we are so infatuated with, and which we call improve- 
ment and prosperity? Improvement in what? Improve- 
ment in the ground we till, in transportation, in the 
clothes and furniture and houses we make, — and for 
the sake of these improvements in our modern science, 
if I count myself as an immortal soul with eternity 
waiting for me, I shall not be so carried away by the 
poor glitter which belongs to wealth. Machines are 
improved; is man improved? We are rich in gold 
and silver and iron, the wide lap of the earth is heaped 
with gifts; but where are the treasures of the spirit? 
Man was not made for the earth, but the earth for 
him ; his last purpose was not to improve this planet, 


but through its improvement to elevate himself. If 
he have lost sight of this and enriched the earth to 
the neglect of himself, no trick played in a mad-house 
could be more fanciful than that now played by the 
active part of the human race. 

What a fact! That the finest and furthest future is 
here, is inside of this mortal breast. Do we not see it? 
Is there not something in a Christian's spirit which 
seems native to other regions than this; something 
familiar yet remote, which breathes a mortal's breath, 
yet finely scents the air from purer places? I mean 
not to traduce the just merits of the age or to cast con- 
tempt on any outward good. That would be weak or 
hypocritical. By so much as I think industry is good 
for man rather than idleness, by so much do I value 
this age above all others. By as much as I prefer peace 
and its arts to the barbarous and brutal business of war; 
by as much as improvements in governments, and im- 
provements in the machines, and arts, and trades of 
life give more men hope, give more men work, and self- 
respect the means of education ; and by so much as I 
do desire on the one hand to seethe primitive command 
fulfilled, " Subdue the earth and possess it," and on the 
other hand as I desire to see the spirit of man refined, 
invigorated, and raised in all its powers, — by so much 
I value this time above all others. Men have a right 
to congratulate themselves. Let God be thanked for 
every hand and head cunning to work with iron, and 
to detect and extract and put in managed action the 


mighty powers in the earth and air, in the fire and 
water. The planet of which man to-day is the possessor 
is an inheritance as much richer than the planet which 
belonged to the men of three hundred years ago, as the 
Sun is richer than his satellite Jupiter. I am willing 
to acknowledge all that can be said in this way. No 
thanksgiving to God, though it sounded daily from the 
great seas to the great continents, and from the conti- 
nents to the seas, could praise him enough for the 
blessings of work, of bread to the poor, of liberty to the 
prisoner, of instruction to the ignorant, of hope to all. 
Nay, in a higher view, no student in the affairs of men 
or the ways of God can fail to see that in the sort 
of improvements taken together which distinguish this 
period, there is laid a basis, there is provided a way, 
there is begun an education, certainly the best ever known 
for the future elevation of the species in its highest and 
most solemn relations. Take as an example the ocean 
telegraph, that submarine nerve in which the earth 
stands organized to-day as one body to the common 
spirit of humanity. I think that is a shallow and faith- 
less spirit which can see nothing in the age but what 
is called Utilitarianism. Certain I am that all our pros- 
perity is susceptible of a high and grand utility, and not 
merely of what is material. Still, what it is suscep- 
tible of and what it is are different things. The reproach 
of Utilitarianism does not belong to this time and place, 
and not merely in the limited sense of absorbing our 
attention in what is material, to the exclusion of the 


more generous tastes, but in that far larger sense of 
narrowing our whole idea of what is good to the king- 
dom without us, and shutting out all thought of the 
kingdom within. This tendency has become enormously 

Every inch of new dominion we gain over matter, 
every fresh splendor which money and art shed upon 
society, makes this outer world more and more the 
heaven of man's thought, and he labors as if for his 
life to increase his portion in it. Before the eyes of 
every one is held up that vision of material splendor, 
the prosperous man of this age. From our youth, we 
are led to feel how grand is wealth and its appurte- 
nances, — how desirable, nay, indispensable ; or if we 
do not feel so as to wealth precisely, we do as to what 
follows wealth, — the power and favor it gives a man. 
What is it we live and act for? It is the comfort or the 
grandeur of a better outward condition. Say what we 
will, this is our kingdom. We admire and think of and 
talk of how great things the world is doing and indi- 
viduals are doing, and our days are spent in wishing, 
longing, working to have a part in this. The creed of 
the world is that to be respectable and rich is to be 
saved. Reduce all this glitter of general improvement 
and prosperity which we worship to a particular case, 
and examine it. Let us take those who best represent 
the glory of the age, — those deepest in the work, and 
highest in its rewards. Has the kingdom come upon 
them because of this success? A certain kingdom they 


have gained. They have a degree of .dominion over 
external things. Such a man can choose a finer site 
and place on it a better house, and fill it with more 
pleasing and comfortable objects ; he can be better 
served and have every bodily want better supplied ; 
though he may not be great in himself, he can appear 
so to others; he can shut out numberless disagreeables, 
and call for and pay for numberless pleasures. The 
admiration and respect of people at large he can have, 
for it can just as certainly be purchased by great wealth 
as any article in the market. This is very dear to the 
heart of man. Yet after all I must say that, consider- 
able as this dominion is, it can hardly persuade or 
exact from outward things a greater amount of real 
personal service than common nature gives to the poor 
man. The rich man may not sleep better, though he 
may command a thousand chambers and couches; he 
cannot perhaps eat with more pleasure, though land 
and sea be searched to cull choice things for him. The 
water and the air and the beautiful earth and sky, and 
all the great common satisfactions, give him no special 
service, and often indeed they bate a little of that which 
they render to a poorer man. 

" The smoke ascends to heaven 
As lightly from the cottage hearth, 
As from the haughtiest palace." 

But let us grant without grudging it that he is the 
minion darling of the world, that his five senses are 


better gratified, though I think the contrary is true at 
least in the cases of those who have a competence. 
Let us add in his favor (and this is very important) 
that his wealth and position give him attention; that 
he has the sublime sense of power, namely, that he can 
move so many spindles, build and send so many ships ; 
that the market of money and goods feels the pres- 
sure of his presence or his absence. 

" He builds his soul a lordly pleasure-house 
Wherein at ease for aye to dwell ; 
And says, ' O soul, make merry and carouse, 
Dear soul, for all is well.' " 

I have said all fairly so far as I know it. Has then 
the kingdom of heaven come upon this man? *' The 
kingdom of God is within you." The kingdom of 
heaven is that the soul be born again, be bettered daily, 
be trustful in God, more generous to man, more power- 
ful every way; live for immortality and feel within itself 
the title to it. Has the prosperity and improvement of 
the age or of private fortunes done this for any man? 
Have riches made the rich man to remember more his 
immortality? Have all his calculations made him more 
capable of that one most simple but yet deepest of all 
calculations, — how long he has to live, that his life is 
but a hand's breadth, a vapor that appeareth for a little 
season? Has this splendor given him that noblest of 
elevations, lowliness before God? Does he know him- 
self better, or has he in some way come to think that all 


this fine outward has something to do with the man, 
that his houses and lands and reputation are a splendor 
in himself? Does a man gain a greater sense of the 
poverty of his soul, — that it is poor and miserable and 
blind and naked, and needs all purification, all strength, 
and all forgiveness at the hands of God, through the 
love of a Saviour? Has this glorious man gained a 
dominion within, — a dominion of wider and loftier 
value than every star and every sun and the four corners 
of the unlimited heaven; strength of will for good, 
strength of will against evil, tender and loving and 
pure affections? Does the age and its prosperity 
give him rational and just views of himself, enabling 
him to feel as a creature towards the great benign 
Creator, as a sacred one towards his Saviour, as 
a brother towards his brethren, using his noble gifts 
to noble ends? Is this his state? I know some such, 
as they expand without, expanding and rising within ; 
a majestic spectacle! But is this the rule? Do 
we see no shrinkage within? If so, the kingdom 
of heaven has not come; the man is passing through 
a few years of vain show, and the vain world is gap- 
ing after him and he is all deluded. A kingdom of 
miserable shadows is substituted for that kingdom 
which hath foundations, whose maker and builder is 
God. We have but a short time to carry out better 
ideas. The eternal kingdom is near before us. Are 
we ready? Let us keep one thing every moment in 
mind, that all true glory is within ; that this discon- 


tented and morbid striving for what is outward is a 
madness ; that it is within our reach every day to be a 
true king unto God and Christ, ever reminding our- 
selves, and ever calmly impressing upon others, that 
the kingdom is not meat or drink, but righteousness 
and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost. 

<^ XXXV. 

For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to him- 
self. — Rom. xiv. 7. 

QAINT PAUL meant here that no man ought to 
*^ Hve or to die selfishly, — that no man who lives 
and dies as a man ever does live or die to himself. 
The object proposed in living should not be one's 
self, but others. Not that self is not to be taken care 
of; but Nature so prompts that it need never be the 
main and proposed object of life. If the whole of our 
deliberate purpose in life be directed outward, self will 
still be well taken care of, — not only because it is so strong 
an instinct that it will work with quite enough force if 
entirely neglected, or even if opposed, — not only this, 
but he wjio liveth for others does thereby, in the end, 
live for himself in the most effectual way, for his right 
affections bless themselves. His heart, by the deepest 
law of its nature, receives into itself just to the degree that 
it expands outward. '* My prayer," says the Psalmist, 
" shall return into my own bosom." Peace, the fruit of 
joy, that is, the well-being of the man's inward nature, 
is inseparable from the generous affections; so that 


he must, in the highest manner, forward his own in- 
terests by looking to the good of others ; and no 
accident can ever prevent this. Being sure, then, that 
God will take care of us, let us henceforth know that 
we are born to live to others rather than to ourselves. 
We are born to imitate God, who is said to be Love, 
that is, who exists in giving, whose conscious being (if 
we may speak of so awful a thing) all moves outward, 
who lives not to himself. We are born to imitate him 
also who is set forth as the copy of God, and as the 
model of man ; whose entire existence, so far as it 
has shewed itself in time, was an existence of affection 
and gift, — offering his very soul a sacrifice for sin, in 
no thing pleasing himself or ministering unto himself, 
but in all living unto others. This is clearly the style 
appointed to immortal men. Propose a life to be lived 
for others. Exhibit this enchanting singularity in a 
world of self-seekers ! But who are these others for 
whom we are to give our existence? Let all whose 
sufferings and whose sins and whose immortal value 
made them dear to Christ be dear to us also, — to 
relieve, to purify, to save ! The sphere of our objects 
is wide, beginning with God and ending with the least 
of his creatures ! Let us try how large, how pure, 
how gladdening life will be lived in giving all to God 
and to those who need. This is heaven and eternal 
life. It is just above our heads. Let us lift up our 
hearts into it. We think there is a great difference 
between earth and heaven, but there is only a small 


difference between what we call earth and heaven com- 
pared to the difference between a selfish life and a life 
of the affections. The one is as much above the other 
as the spirit of God is above the mere animal nature. 
And yet we may, by a mere choice of the heart, pass 
from the one into the other, and escape from an infinite 
lowness into an infinite and eternal highness! Our 
nature is an awful mystery; yet we know that what I 
have said is true. 

Hear, then, the majestic simplicity of these words: 
" No man liveth to himself; " and add to them these 
others: "and no man dieth to himself." The great 
concluding act — that too must be given to God. As 
in the smaller events of life he accepts all things, 
good or evil, which occur, and turns them into sacri- 
fices to God and gifts to man, so in death, that last 
event of all, he makes of that a last great offering to 
others. How? Why, he so dies as to illustrate the 
spirit he is of, " the spirit of power, and of love, and 
of a sound mind," — giving, in that awful exigency, 
an offering toward the invisible God, of the highest 
trust and affection, and toward man shedding, even 
out of the darkness of the grave, an indescribable 
light and power, which is full of immortality. Thus 
he fulfils his course, neither living nor dying to him- 
self, and in that other state of being to which he 
goes he shall find that he has not spent his treas- 
ures but laid them up, and that all the affectionate 
offerings he has made, wherever scattered, shall come 


back seeking him, — and shall find him out, and shall 
pour one hundred fold into his bosom. The words 
have another meaning, which, whether intended or not, 
is not less true. It is that no man can live unto him- 
self whether he will or not. He may forget that he 
ought to live for others, and he may aim to live only 
to himself, but it is out of his power. He must, by 
the constitution of God, live to others. 

If we live not for others the dreadful necessity is 
laid upon us of living against them. No neutrality. 
God imposes upon his creatures that they take a 
side. We are born social, — part of one august 
society which has God at its head. 
::^Social power is our very nature, that is, to feel 
the effect of others, and to make them feel effects 
from us. This is our destiny, and we cannot evade it. 
Were we allowed to be solitary, our career would be 
far less awful; but on the earth, and in the condition 
above it, as in the condition below it, wc must bear 
power about with us forever. We are creators in a 
real sense, not of the shape of mere matter, but ot 
the shape of spirits, and if xce advance eternally, 
this creating power upon the destiny of spirits must 
advance with us, and if we call not forth righteous- 
ness of light, we must call forth righteousness of 
darkness forever ! If there be anything sure, this 
is. It is my employment day by day, if stated accu- 
rately, to call forth in myself, and others, the divine 
image, or that image which is against the di\'ine, — 


call it the image of the devil or not. I cannot help 
this. It is not something that I must arise and go 
forth to do, but it exudes from the life, it is shed 
about a man as an exhalation from his very being; 
it falls as the light from his eye, the breath from 
his lips. What I am, I may try to conceal, but, in 
truth, God will not permit a man to conceal him- 
self, even in this world of sense, and where our facul- 
ties of knowing each other are so imperfect. We 
cannot, for the most part, hide ourselves. What the 
words do not speak, the eye will speak, and the lines 
of the face, and the tones of the voice. What I 
will not show of myself out of doors, I will show 
within doors. A power must escape, and go forth 
from me. My soul must express itself, and hemmed in 
on one side, it will emerge in another. 

My spirit must breathe, and if it breathe it must 
breathe upon others, and if the breath be vital 
others will live, and if the breath be deadly others 
will die. These are great laws, as great as any in 
nature. " No man liveth unto himself, and no man 
dieth unto himself." 

Gracious God, what a destiny for such a creature 
as man ! 

I am establishing the destiny of other spirits every 
day, and the remotest days in the remotest year of 
God will feel my power. We are all sowers, gone 
out to sow. We scatter eternal seed, and the fruit 
is eternal. And as in the one case we must fill our 


bosoms with the sheaves of our good deeds, so there 
will be a filling of the bosoms of men with the fruits and 
sheaves of death. To me will come back the latest fruits 
of my good or evil, or even of my neglect ; they will 
track me back through long generations until they 
find their source and lay at my feet the long issue 
of joy or woe ! ^^t is in that sense fearful, this fact, 
to think that I am creating wrong results, — living to 
others indeed, but only to curse them; a creator of 
wrong results. Nay, as if this were needed to fill up 
the terribleness of death, and make him " king of 
terrors," I must add to all the natural affliction of 
that crisis the reflection that I am even dying to 
the injury of others, if I die giving no testimony to 
Christ. There is another way of dying to the injury 
of others. I doubt whether death-beds of forced and 
hurried repentance are not often among the worst 
specimens of dying to the injury of others, — cheating 
others to the belief that tiiis may make up for all, 
and that their religion may consist of living sin when 
they can live it, and saying, "Forgive me" when they 


On the whole, then, as we must in some way live 
and die to others, let us see in what way we are doing 
it. In respect to our children, our friends, and all 
men, what power are we exerting ! How are we 
using our property, and all our gifts of mind and 
speech? Above all, in what state are we allowing 
our hearts to be? If we do not purify and sweeten 


that fountain, then we are not only Hving perniciously 
to ourselves, but with a dreadful power against others. 
Let us remember two things: that ''they who are 
wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, 
and they who turn many to righteousness, as the 
stars, forever and ever ; " and then remember that, 
in that other firmament there are also stars of por- 
tentous and malignant light; and these are they who 
have turned many unto iniquity and death. 



Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall 7iot pass 
away. St. Luke xxi. 33. 

nr^HAT is, all things are fugitive, even heaven, and 
-■- earth; one thing only is perpetual, — the god- 
like word. The heaven and earth were a great thing 
even then ; but now they are so enlarged that the old 
earth and heavens are very petty affairs. Travel and 
observation, improving geography first, the microscope 
opening a height and depth below; and then observa- 
tions, the telescope and mathematics opening a height 
and width above, — have made the earth and heaven 
which were but as a Juit, to be as a temple, high and 
wide almost as God himself. It is somewhat curious to 
remark here, that before this growth of heaven and 
earth began, God himself had emerged to the Hebrews ; 
and these little trifles, the heathen gods, seemed but as 
puppets, by the side of the One God who inhabiteth eter- 
nity, and filleth immensity. The Hebrews then had an 
awful, infinite God, while they still had but a poor 
and limited heaven and earth to throne him in, until 
modern science showed a corresponding residence and 
throne for him. Certainly the disciples of Christ, if they 


did not realize, as we do, the largeness of God's creation, 
and the power of his natural being, realized far deeper, 
partly perhaps on that account, his spirituality, per- 
sonality, holiness, beauty; while the greatness of the 
creation seems to materialize God, and lessen our sense 
of him as a Being of the heart, having his truest resi- 
dence not in the regions of sense, but in regions of the 
spirit. We have learned how great a thing the heaven 
and earth of which Christ spake really is, so that 
when we lift our eyes and say heaven and earth, we 
mean much more than he did. 

He meant, to be sure, everything but God ; but we 
realize how vast that everything is. But all this '' shall 
pass away." Have we learned anything more about 
that fact? He was sure it would all go. What has 
our thought to-day to say about that? It says, yes, 
it shall pass ; and so nmch greater as is the earth and 
the infinite heavens we, know compared with the little 
earth and heavens of the Hebrews, so much vaster the 
change. Suns, and solar systems, and other systems 
to which suns are but planets, wheeling around awful 
and splendid centres, of which the heavens are full, — 
all changes, and moves towards change for evermore. 
The heavens and earth " pass away." 

" But my words shall not pass away." " My words " 
means in a high sense the expressed heart of God, 
whether the character of a being expresses it or his 
words, as they both are the expression of God ; and 
so, are as eternal as God is, amid the ebb and flow of 


creatures and worlds. The words of Christ, what he 
said, what he was expressed before men, are a revela- 
tion of spirit, of the divine life, pure and unchanging. 
He did not only speak the word, but was the word. 
His heart, as we catch glimpses of it, is a well, a sea, 
in whose pure depth God lies imaged. And this 
" word " will last; every line of it. If God lasts, every- 
thing which is like him must last. The holiness and 
justice of the Old Testament, are they gone? They are 
here to-day. Will they ever go? They will last when 
the heavens are " rolled up as a scroll." That last grace 
and glory of God, Christ, shall not pass away, for he 
is the image of the divine love at its happiest moment. 
Creation is nothing: God and the children of God 
stand. Matter is wind ; force, though majestic as the 
heavens, it is a splendid smoke, and must pass and melt 
like breath into the wind ; but God, the spirit which 
informs the world, which gives shape, tJiis, but above 
all, the high impulse, the holy spirit, which makes the 
souls of men and angels, this stands. The spirit var- 
ies and transmutes, but never changes; decay and 
death, it knows not. It was, and is and shall be ; " it 
alone hath immortality." Hence it is that we see so 
many strange expressions of Christ which imply how 
solid and eternal he knew his spirit to be, amid the 
shadows of nature. As a man he was as fragile as 
we are, perhaps more so ; but standing in the fulness of 
his inward life, death, which is so great a thing to other 
men's eyes, was almost unnoticcable to him. He speaks 


often, as if there were no death, not only to him, but to 
all those who were in the least degree like him. 

But to descend from this height of the permanency 
of the spiritual life of Christ, let us contemplate a 
moment the permanence of the literal ** words " of 
Christ; of these very words written in this book. " My 
words shall not pass away." 

We have found, as a matter of fact, that they do not 
pass. They have stood already toward nineteen hun- 
dred years, but how much of the words of men have, 
even since then, go?ie, and how much more of them 
have lost all value ! But these words grow sweeter, and 
seem more immortal the longer they last; and, I doubt 
not that just these very words will be taken up and 
seem beautiful and vital to the almost endless genera- 
tions of men. Or if the words are dropped, the spirit in 
them will pass into the souls of men. If we conceive 
the world changed in some distant hereafter into a 
world without a God or a religion, though much of the 
precise words of this book may be changed, the spirit 
of them, so far at least as they express the humility of 
man towards what is above him, and the brotherhood 
of man to his fellow, will forever be the essential law 
and code of the heavenly kingdom ; and they shall last 
in their spirit, when the earth and heavens have passed 
away; for, as they express the real and most interior 
laws of the Holy Spirit, they must last while the spirit 
itself lasts. When we open this book, then, we come 
out of the region of our fleeting lives, and enter a gar- 


den where everything is immortal. There we hear 
sounds, and every one of them is sweet, pure and en- 
during. Listen! *' Blessed are the pure in heart." "It 
is more blessed to give than to receive." " Blessed are 
they that weep now, for they shall laugh." " I am the 
Resurrection and the Life." These, and words like 
these, shall last as long as there is a tongue to speak, 
or an ear to hear; they are the everlasting jewels of 
man. And when all tongues are silent, in other regions 
in the vast worlds of spirit, their meaning shall flame 
forth, for they speak the eternal laws of all souls. We 
live in a period of special doubt and disbelief. It is in 
vain to deny it or lessen it. Within my memory, men 
of science and doubt have declared themselves an august 
power. Before that, there was this and that man of 
science here and there ; but now there is a great body 
and class, and their thoughts move and almost domi- 
nate the world. So far as they are true thoughts, let 
them move and dominate. 

But, let me say in the ear of a proud disbelief, 
** Heaven and earth shall pass away." Forms and 
details will change, but so long as man is a " living 
soul," so long must the truths of the soul assert them- 
selves. There is something higher than heaven and 
deeper than hell ; whose foundations go deeper than 
any plummet can sound. What is it? The true spirit 
of Christ ! Around it everything else is shadow and 
shall flee as a shadow; so far as the immortal words of 
Christ and his spirit are wrought into our souls, are we 
immortal. So far have we become immortals. 


** Heaven and earth shall pass away." We shall not. 
I do not say that other men who have none of his 
word in them will not last. They may live in some 
sense, but Christ does not call it life. Only so far as 
our hearts have become shaped and vitalized by his 
words into the same image, — are made tender with 
their tenderness, are made meek with their meekness, 
affectionate with their affections, trusting with their 
faith, — so far have we become living, ** full of immor- 
tality," as the apostle expresses it. Though dying 
ourselves and surrounded by death, that is but a cir- 
cumstance. The man is not touched. " There is no 
more death." " Heaven and earth shall pass away," 
but all who are illumined by the light of Christ shall 
shine as the stars for ever and ever.